Phenix de Mahdia
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... Sousse. It isn't quite in the desert, but you can feel it from here. It also has a rabat, supposedly in better condition than the one in Sousse, but its medina/souk is not nearly as traditional or historical.
However, Monastir does have the mausoleum of Habib Bourghiba, the dictator of 31 years (1956-1981) after Tunisia obtained independence from France, He was a *******, but he had a vision for Tunisia as a moderate Islamic country, ...
... He seems to be almost venerated by the people & his times are seen as a kind of golden age. We wandered in the medina with narrow passages between the houses & enjoyed seeing the range of products available.
After lunch, back in Sousse, we went to the ribat to see the recently re-opened museum of 2nd century AD mosaics & artefacts taken from villas in the area, in its courtyard. These were truly stunning, in size, ...
Our final stop of the day is the costal city of Monastir, which is just over 23km south of Sousse and 33 km from Port El Kantaoui.
Monastir - from past to present
Founded on the ruins of the Punic-Roman city of Ruspina, Monastir has since evolved and developed from a fishing village into a major tourist resort - a familiar story along the Mediterranean coast.
Like a number of ...
... walking along the dark passageways under the area, there is some light along the way from the grills above. We peer into the dark cells which would have housed the captive animals and slaves as well as the larger rooms where the gladiators would have been prepared.
Climbing to the "gods" the highest seats in the amphitheatre we look down on the arena and can onlyimagine the spectacles which would have been played out below during Roman times.
... Empire. The amphitheatre would have seated some 35,000 spectators, making it one of the largest venues in Roman times with only the Flavian amphitheatre in Rome (50,000) and theatre of Capua having greater capacity.
The amphitheatre is a complex structure, but it has been well preserved and remains unaltered. Underneath the arena there are two passageways, which we explore, where gladiators would have waited with animals and slaves before being brought ...