The surroundings of Tunis include the select residential towns and seaside resorts of La Marsa, the Aqueduct of Hadrian and the little agricultural town of Zaghouan.
La Mohammedia - Aqueduct of Hadrian
Two km/1.25mi south of the village of La Mohammedia are the remains of the Aqueduct of Hadrian, which runs alongside the road for a distance of some 5km/3mi. Built between A.D. 120 and 131 and borne on massive 20m/65ft high piers linked by arches, the aqueduct carried water to Carthage from Djebel Zaghouan (1,295m/4,249ft), the highest peak in the northern Dorsale, a distance of 90km/55mi. After the fall of Rome the aqueduct continued to be used and kept in repair by the Byzantines, the Fatimids and the Hafsids, but from the 14th century onwards it gradually fell into ruin.
La Goulette is a suburb of Tunis that held a strategic place on the Tunis Harbor for centuries. Tourists can visit the Spanish and Turkish fort, the sandy beach, and the Avenue Franklin Roosevelt promenade.
22km/14mi northeast of Tunis and 6km/4mi north of La Goulette are the select residential towns and seaside resorts of La Marsa and Gammarth, much frequented by the people of Tunis.AccessTGM Tunis-La Goulette-La Marsa, or by car on GP 9 (the road to the airport). The name of La Marsa comes from its medieval designation of Marsa Roum ("Port of the Christians") - referring to the many Copts who came here from Egypt. In the 10th century Sidi Mahrez, Tunis's patron saint, lived and died here. During the 19th century the Beys and their senior officials built summer palaces here, and thereafter the upper classes of the population began to patronize the resort. The President of Tunisia also has a residence here. The main feature of interest in La Marsa is the market square, with its buildings of the Hafsid period. At the right-hand end of the square is the entrance to the Cafe Saf-Saf, built round a Hafsid fountain.
19km/12mi southeast of Tunis on GP 1 is Hammam-Lif (pop. 30,000). Its beach, badly polluted though it is, and its popular Sunday market attract Tunis large numbers of Tunis people at weekends. It has hot springs which were already being used for medicinal purposes in Roman times, though there are no traces of the Roman baths. From the 18th century this was the winter residence of the Beys of Tunis, and during the French colonial period the town became a fashionable bathing resort. The old bath-house of the Beys, now the Hotel des Thermes, is a reminder of past glories. Hammam-Lif is a good starting-point for the ascent of the beautifully formed Djebel Bou Kornine, the "Horned Mountain", with two peaks respectively 576m/1,890ft and 493m/1,618ft high.
The little agricultural town of Zaghouan (pop. 8,000), at the foot of Djebel Zaghouan (1,295m/4,249ft), is reached from Tunis by way of GP 3 and MC 133. This was the site of Roman Ziqua, of which nothing is left but an arched gateway (restored) at the foot of the main street. The town has an attractive old Medina with a maze of irregular streets dominated by two minarets, one Hanafite and the other Malikite. At the upper end of the town is the green-tiled Zaouia of Sidi Ali Azouz, Zaghouan's patron saint.
Two km/1.25mi from Zaghouan, higher up, is a Roman nymphaeum, known in Arabic as Ain el Kasbah and in French as the Temple des Eaux. The small square cella of the shrine was built over the principal spring (now dry). On either side of the cella was a semicircular portico enclosing a terrace open to the northwest. Here, opposite the cella, is a large basin in the form of a figure of eight, the starting-point of the 124km/74mi long aqueduct carrying water to Carthage. From here a road runs up to a viewpoint at an altitude of 975m/3,200ft, with radio and television aerials. In antiquity the hill was covered with forests of thuya; nowadays the slopes above 600m/2,000ft bear a dense growth of macchia. There are attractive trips from Zaghouan into the beautiful surrounding country.
La Mohammedia, Tunisia
15km/9mi south of Tunis on GP 3 is the village of La Mohammedia (reached by leaving Tunis on the motorway to Sousse and in 8km/5mi turning off into GP 3, the Kairouan road; signposted). Here can be seen the ruins of a palace built by Ahmed Bey (1842-47), who set out to create a Tunisian Versailles. The project, however, was brought to an untimely end by his early death.
Below the market square of La Marsa is the palm-shaded Avenue de la Corniche, which runs along the coast to Gammarth. Just before the town is a French military cemetery, from the highest point of which there are beautiful views over the Gulf of Tunis, extending in clear weather to Cap Bon.
2km/1.25mi south of GP 1, to the west of Soliman Plage, is the Turkish fort of Bordj Cedria.
Northwest of Cap Gammarth is the endless-seeming beach of Raouad, another very popular resort for the people of Tunis in summer.
Map of Tunis Attractions