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Travel Guide Africa Tunisia Carthage

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Introduction

Carthage was the centre or capital city of the ancient Carthaginian civilization, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now the Tunis Governorate in Tunisia.

The city developed from a Phoenician colony into the capital of an empire dominating the Mediterranean Sea during the first millennium BC. The apocryphal queen Dido is regarded as the founder of the city, though her historicity has been questioned. According to accounts by Timaeus of Tauromenium, she purchased from a local tribe the amount of land that could be covered by an oxhide. Cutting the skin into strips, she laid out her claim and founded an empire that would become, through the Punic Wars, the only existential threat to the Roman Empire until the evolution of the Vandals several centuries later.

The ancient city was destroyed by the Roman Republic in the Third Punic War in 146 BC then re-developed as Roman Carthage, which became the major city of the Roman Empire in the province of Africa. The Roman city was again occupied by the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb, in 698. The site remained uninhabited, the regional power shifting to the medina of Tunis in the medieval period, until the early 20th century, when it began to develop into a coastal suburb of Tunis, incorporated as Carthage municipality in 1919.

The archaeological site was first surveyed in 1830, by Danish consul Christian Tuxen Falbe. Excavations were performed in the second half of the 19th century by Charles Ernest Beulé and by Alfred Louis Delattre. The Carthage National Museum was founded in 1875 by Cardinal Charles Lavigerie. Excavations performed by French archaeologists in the 1920s attracted an extraordinary amount of attention because of the evidence they produced for child sacrifice, in Greco-Roman and Biblical tradition associated with the Canaanite god Baal Hammon. The open-air Carthage Paleo-Christian Museum has exhibits excavated under the auspices of UNESCO from 1975 to 1984.

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Getting There and Around

Take the TGM light rail line from Tunis to one of the following stations:

  • Carthage-Hannibal (most destinations including Antonine Baths, Roman Theatre and the hill-top Carthage Museum/Acropolium/Carthage Archaeological Park complex)
  • Carthage-PrĂ©sidence (for the Basilica of Saint Cyprien, or a walk past the President's palace)
  • Carthage-Amilcar (only useful for the American Cemetery)
  • Carthage-Byrsa (Oceanographic Museum, Punic Tophet and it's nearby hotel)

Mostly it's best to walk. However, the area is large and sightseeing is sweaty work on a hot day.
If you are tired, you may wish to get a cab between some of the major tourist spots. This should be cheaper in low season.

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Eat

There are a number of eateries scattered around the district, though most lie outside of the major tourist trail.

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Drink

  • The hotel Villa Didon, next to the main Carthage ruins atop Byrsa Hill, offers a stylish lounge and terrace with delightful views. Very pleasant for an evening beer or glass of wine, though apparently closed during off season.
  • The hotel/restaurant on Rue de Hannibal, just south-west of the Punic Tophet, offers a wine selection, though all are Tunisian and overpriced. Beers also appear to be available.

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Sleep

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This is version 1. Last edited at 9:03 on Apr 10, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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