Tunisia Culture

The culture of Tunisia is seen everyday in the dress of the people, buildings, mosques and food of this interesting country.The cuisine of Tunisia is a mix or Mediterranean anddesert dwellers traditions. Like all countries in the Mediterranean, Tunisians enjoy a diet based mainly on olive oil, spices, tomatoes, seafood and meat (primarily lamb). Thedistinctive spicy flavors have been passed down from neighboring Mediterranean countries and the descendants from many civilizations that have ruled the land: Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, French, and the native Berbers.

Island of Djerba

Djerba is an island and popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches and dramatic sunsets. Djerba is one of the few remaining places in Tunisia where a Berber language is still spoken. It is known as the center of the Islamic sect Al-Ibadhiyah and for its Jewish minority, who have lived on the island for more than 2500 years. Although the Jewish population has declined since 1967 as Jews emigrated to Israel and France, many still return for a yearly pilgrimage to the island. The La Ghriba synagogue, a landmark on the island since the 7th century BC, is the venue for the pilgrimage on the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer.  Being on the island during the pilgrimage was one of the coolest things I’ve done. I actually had a funny experience when I went to a VIP area to speak to the Rabbis and apparently the rumor was that I was the Rabbi from France’s daughter.  It’s too bad I wasn’t very good at French because I just played with it not understanding what was going on.

Another attraction on the island ofDjerba is the 1977 location of the MosEisley (birthplace of Luke Skywalker) exterior scenes in the first Star Wars movie, filmed in the town of Ajim.

Dougga

As I left the Djerbaisland I headed to another Unesco World Heritage site, Dougga,At one time the town ofDougga, built on an elevated site overlooking a fertile plain, was the capital of an important Libyco-Punic state. Even though it flourished under Roman and Byzantine rule, Dougga declined in the Islamic period. The impressive ruins that are visible today give us an idea of the resources of a small Roman town and are a well-preserved example of a forum and baths that were built during the Roman Empire. You will seriously be so surprised on how few of people are on the sites.  While walking around you will feel like the only person.

Bulla Regio

Next on my trip were the subterranean villas of Bulla Regio. These underground homes, protection from the fierce heat and effects of the sun, were built by the Romans and examples of the wealth of their owners. The mosaics found in the dwelling are everywhere and a symbol of wealth. Many of the mosaic floors have been left as they were; others may be seen at the Bardo Museum in Tunis.

El Djem

El Djem is a town that is home to some of the most impressive Roman remains in Africa. Like almost all Roman settlements in Tunisia, the city was built on former Punic settlements. El Djem prospered especially in the 2nd century, when it became an important center of olive oil export.The town is famous for its amphitheater, which is capable of seating 35,000 spectators( 3rd largest ). The amphitheatre at El Djem was built by the Romans and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979.