The Grand Mosque in Kairouan is the oldest place of Muslim worship in Africa. It’s the fourth holiest site after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.
If a pilgrim is unable to go to Mecca seven visits to Kairouan are worth one trip to Mecca.
The Grand Mosque was first built in AD670 but was destroyed and rebuilt in in the ninth century. Muslims can enter by any gate but non Muslims have to enter through the main gate. If you are not properly dressed, head covered and loose clothes covering arms and legs, there are things you can borrow to cover up . You cannot enter the prayer hall but all the doors are always open so you can see the four hundred and fourteen ancient marble columns inside. These originally came from Carthage and Sousse. Red rugs completely cover the floor and the base of the columns and there are large chandeliers every few feet. It’s a pretty impressive sight.
More ruins, this time Dougga. This is more JP’s thing than mine. They are nice to walk round but he knows much more about them than me and actually knows what he’s looking at! But having said that this site is in a beautiful position on a hill with fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a whole city and on a lovely day with spring flowers everywhere it was great to walk round. It was good to see the shepherds in the nearby fields. It makes you think nothing has changed for thousands of years. There’s lots to look at but many of the mosaics have been removed and are in the wonderful Bado museum in Tunis.
UNESCO made Dougga a World Heritage Site in 1997 as it it represents “the best-preserved Roman small town in North Africa”.
Its certainly good to walk around.