Carthage
 
 

Its foundation
Legend has it that coming from Tyr in Phoenicia, princess Elyssa (Dido) founded the “New City” (Carth Hadasht, in Phoenician) in 814 BC. As time passed it became the powerful capital of a maritime empire stretching over the whole western Mediterranean basin, before seeing Rome, its rival and enemy, compete with it, supplant it and then defeat it, taking it and destroying it in 146 BC.
Once part of the Roman empire, Carthage was rebuilt under Octavian Augustus at the end of the lst century BC and endowed with the attributes of a large Roman city : urban infrastructure, public secular and religious buildings, sumptuous houses.

Its development and decline
As the administrative, cultural and artistic capital of the province of Africa, Carthage experienced great prosperity under “pax Romana” and a high degree of refinement and intense intellectual and artistic creativity before falling into a period of decadence that dragged the whole Roman empire into decline, with its ensuing troubles and repeated invasions which, in the space of two centuries (the Vth and VIth) saw the Vandals and the Byzantines successively masters of its walls.
In the VIIIth century, the conquest of Africa by the Arabs sealed the city’s fate, which, abandoned for long centuries, served as a quarry for ready to use building materials both for other cities of the country as well as for those across the Mediterranean.



Its rebirth
The French protectorate over Tunisia at the end of the XIXth century brought life back to the vestiges of the ancient metropolis with, in particular, the establishment of religious communities and the construction of housing for officials and wealthy expatriates, soon joined by the Tunis bourgeoisie and even by the court of the then reigning family who had summer houses built there.
After independence and the proclamation of the Republic in 1957, Carthage once again became the country’s centre of gravity, since it is home to the presidential palace.
Of this long and prestigious past, all that remains are beautiful fragments, for centuries of depredation as well as long uncontrolled urban sprawl have taken their toll on the major part of the site’s 306 hectares.

The Visit

Punic period
From the Punic period we have inherited a residential quarter built on the Byrsa hillside (IInd century BC) known as the Hannibal quarter. The vestiges of an older quarter, known as Mago’s quarter has been excavated along the seashore behind the city ramparts.
In addition, the basin of the military port with the Admiralty island in the middle, where it is possible to distinguish the aliment of dry docks for war ships as well as a part of the commercial basin.
Not far from there, the “tophet”, sanctuary devoted to the ruling divinities of Carthage: Baal and Hammon and Tanit, still contains a great collection of steles and funerary urns, as well as an altar on which sacrifices were practiced, including some human, according to ancient tradition.
Finally, the necropolises discovered in different places on the site have supplied museums, in particular that of Carthage, with precious objects, testifying to the various aspects of daily life of Carthaginians during Punic times.

The Roman and following periods

Many more monuments have survived from the Roman period. At the top of Byrsa hill (still called the Acropolis), massive foundations as well as fragments of columns and pieces of wall give us some idea of the magnificence of the forum.
The remainder of the vestiges are spread in “clusters” over a vast area. To the north west of the Acropolis:
- the Malga cisterns, the largest of Roman Antiquity that supplied the metropolis in water conveyed by aqueduct from the Zaghouan springs, 70km away.
- The amphitheatre, that witnessed the martyrdom of saints Perpetua and Felicity in the IVth century;
- The circus, whose shape can be guessed.
To the north of the Acropolis, not far from the El Abidine mosque, recently built on the site of colonial period buildings:
- the IVth century Damous Carita basilica;
- a funerary complex from the same period;
- the theatre, rehabilitated for use by the International Carthage festival;
- a quarter known as the Odeon, including vestiges of villas as well as the reconstruction of a house called the Villa of the Aviary.
Further east, on the seashore:
- The Antoine Baths, an archaeological park including, besides the IInd century thermal establishment, one of the largest in Africa, there are vestiges of a great many buildings: houses, religious buildings of various periods as well as burial sites, some dating to Punic times.
Isolated monuments (Saint Cyprian basilica, fountain of the thousand amphorae, temple of Juno, Early Christian villas) arrival of the aqueducts, monumental cisterns etc. are scattered around the site.

The museums

Two museums house most of the finds resulting from the many excavation campaigns spanning over a century and covering all the periods of Carthage’s history. They are the National Carthage Museum – the most important – and the Early Christian antiquarium.

Back

Tunis / Cartahge
Park of the Antonine Baths
The Roman theatre of Carthage
The Carthage Tophet
Roman villas of Carthage
The Roman amphitheatre of Carthage The Carthage Early Christian Museum
The Museum
The archaelogical site
From 16/09 to 16/06 : 08.30 - 17.00
From 18/07 to 15/09 : 08.00 - 19.00
From 17/06 to 17/07 : 8:00-17:00 Horaire Ramadan
10 Dt
Grouped ticket
- Wc
- Shop
- Cafeteria