Carthage

قرطاج



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Today a pretty and afluent suburb of modern Tunis, the outward appearance of Carthage belies its turbulent past and times when the conquest of ancient Rome was in its sights. But the Romans had other ideas, and burned the place to the ground, enslaving the populace, back in 146 BC. A peace treaty was eventually signed between the two cities, but not until 1985, more than two thousand years later.

Carthage is easily reached from Tunis, so I headed there for my last night in Tunisia, staying at a small hotel in an old vaulted building in nearby Sidi bou Said, before wandering the ruins the following day, and heading back to the UK.


Welcome to Carthage

Carthage was very pleasant to wander around in, simply from the point of view of being clean and well laid out. The Arabic at the top of this sign is quite stylised, but is transliterated as Qrtāj.


A view of Byrsa hill from across the water of what remains of the once mighty Punic ports.

Punic ports

View

Looking from the top of Byrsa hill in the last photo, towards where I was standing when I took it. You can see the basins of the Punic ports appearing as small lakes before the sea.


There currently stands a fairly impressive cathedral on the summit of Byrsa hill, built on top of the ruins of the Roman forum, which was itself built on top of the ruins of the Phoenician city.

Cathedral

Byrsa Hill

The foundations of the Punic quarter are still quite visible on top of Byrsa hill, including roads and stepping stones.


The colosseum has fared about as well, being that only the foundations and a few seats remain. There are still a couple of tunnels beneath it which you can wander through.

Colosseum

Cisterns

The Romans had quite the mastery over hydraulic architecture, as evidenced in the cisterns for water storage which still stand on the outskirts of Carthage. They are about 15 feet deep.


Steeply raked seating of the Carthage amphitheatre, which is still in use today and was being made ready for a performance the day I visited.

Amphitheatre

Villas

Roman villas high up on Byrsa hill.


Classic headless Roman statue in a collonaded villa.

Villas

Tree view

Looking back down to the azure Mediterranean from the villas.


Although largely collapsed, there are still some fairly intact signs of Roman life in the villas, such as this mosaic floor.

Mosaic

Villas

Classic statue and column, with the sea behind.


Back down at the bottom of Byrsa hill lies the remains of the Antonine baths. They don't look quite so appealing for a dip now as I'm sure they once were.

Baths

Carthage Hannibal

To head back to Tunis city, you catch the train at none other than Carthage Hannibal station. Named after Carthage's most famous son, Hannibal who marched his elephants through the Alps to conquer Rome, and so very nearly did.


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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2008