Hammamet Tourist Attractions
Situation and characteristicsHammamet, picturesquely situated in its bay on the Cap Bon peninsula, is the original nucleus and the main center of the Tunisian tourist trade.
Together with Nabeul, 10km/6mi northeast, this former fishing village now forms the largest seaside resort in the country. Its great attractions are its magnificent sandy beaches, with groves of oranges and lemons lying just inland, and its sheltered situation in the wind shadow of the long range of hills known as the Dorsale, an offshoot of which forms the backbone of the Cap Bon peninsula. In summer there are dramatic performances and other cultural events.The townThe old town, the Medina, lies on a rocky promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean, dominated by the high walls of the Kasbah which once protected the little fishing Harbor. In spite of the influx of tourists it has managed to preserve its picturesque character and its charm.North and south of the Medina are beautiful sandy beaches, fringed by well laid out parks and gardens in which are set the hotels built since the late sixties, now with a total of well over 16,000 beds. In spite of this rapid development, which is still continuing, the new buildings have taken account of traditional architectural styles and fit harmoniously into the landscape.HistoryHammamet occupies the site of a small Roman settlement named Pupput (Put Put), of which only scanty remains have survived. Although a fortress was built here in the 13th century, the town began to develop only two centuries later. In its early days it was a pirates' lair, but soon afterwards it fell into the hands of the Spaniards, who hunted down the pirates.Thereafter Hammamet fell into oblivion, from which it emerged only in the late 19th and early 20th century, when the picturesque little fishing village was discovered by writers and artists, including Paul Klee, Gustave Flaubert, August Macke, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde and André Gide. They were followed after the First World War by wealthy British, American and French visitors, who built themselves luxurious villas in Hammamet. Then the real boom began in the late sixties, when mass tourism came to Tunisia. Hammamet is now Tunisia's principal seaside resort, which during the main holiday season has almost as many visitors as native inhabitants.AccessHammamet, 63km/39mi southeast of Tunis (70km/43mi from the Tunis-Carthage international airport), is linked with the capital by motorway and by GP 1. Rail connections with Tunis, Nabeul and Bir Bou Rekba (from which there are connections with Sousse and Sfax); the station is 1km/0.75mi outside the town. Bus services to and from Tunis, Nabeul, Sousse, Monastir, Mahdia, Kelibia and Kairouan.
The little Medina in Hammamet, surrounded by 15th century walls, is a maze of narrow and sometimes covered lanes. The wares displayed in the souks are all designed to appeal to the tourists. The most popular articles, unfortunately rather over-priced, are embroidery, pottery, leather goods and carpets.
In the southern hotel zone of Hammamet, beyond the Hotel Continental, is the International Cultural Center (Center Culturel International), housed in the sumptuous villa built in the 1920s by a wealthy Romanian named George Sebastian, the first millionaire to settle in Hammamet. In July and August the beautiful grounds of the villa are the setting of an international festival of music and drama. The theater, based on Greek and Roman models, was built in 1964 for the purposes of the festival. Farther out, between the Samira Club and Tanfous Hotels, are the excavations of the Roman settlement of Pupput.
West and north of the Medina is the center of modern Hammamet, from which the town's two main business and shopping streets, Avenue Habib Bourguiba and Avenue de la République, run north and east. At the junction of the two streets is the new shopping center (Center Commercial) opened in 1979.
Along side streets in the souks are Hammamet's two mosques. The Great Mosque, with its old rectangular minaret, dates from the 15th century; it was restored in 1972. Adjoining is the Sidi Abdel Kader Mosque (1798), now used as a Koranic school.
The Kasbah in Hammamet is worth a visit for the sake of its small but interesting museum and above all for its fine views of the Medina, the new town and the picturesque fishing harbor.
On the east side of the Medina in Hammamet are an old French cemetery and an Islamic cemetery.
Hammamet is an excellent base for excursions in the surrounding area.
Map of Hammamet Attractions