"The Ruins of Carthage" Top 5 Page for this destination Carthage by starship

Carthage Travel Guide: 134 reviews and 518 photos

Ancient Maritime Empire Founded by a Princess

Ancient Carthage arguably occupies one of the most famous historical sites in the world and remains home to some of the most interesting ruins of ancient times. There are many good reasons to visit Tunisia. But for a lover of history, the opportunity to visit the ruins of Carthage, Dougga and El Jem are reason enough.

As we docked in the early morning in La Goulette, one could easily tell that that the brilliant sun and humidity would make for a somewhat physically uncomfortable day in Tunisia. I knew long before arriving here that it would be just this way and had planned ahead. I was so excited not only to visit my first country on the continent of Africa but also a largely Arabic country, that I planned to wear an outfit of all white--white tunic and white pants--reflective of the sun and hopefully respectful of the culture.

We did not anticipate using public transportation or renting a car, so naturally we booked an excursion. I would have taken the 8-9 hour excursion covering much more, but the tour most family members voted for was the 4 hour one covering Sidi Bou Said and Carthage, and I did feel strongly about at least seeing both of these splendid places. I was not disappointed!!

We had an excellent guide, Yousef, who attempted to show us as much as possible in the time allotted. We saw the beautiful town of Sidi Bou Said and in Carthage itself we saw the Roman Antonine Baths, the Roman Ampitheatre, the site of the Roman Forum, viewed the Cathedral of St. Louis, the North Africa American Cemetery (an unexpected pleasure) and had a few minutes for shopping and time to take quite alot of photos. While we didn't have time to dwell in each spot as long as we wished, we saw a lot in a mere 4 hours time!!

From all that I saw, the city of Carthage is somewhat unlike its nearest neighbors of Sidi Bou Said, Tunis and La Goulette. It shares no fame for hotels, resorts, or restaurants, and I saw none myself. But, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is one of the greatest outdoor "museums" in the world. Carthage is not an especially verdant spot. But where planted, the trees, and flowering bushes dot the landscape like a lovely oasis. Carthage does share with its neighbor, Sidi Bou Said, the great fortune of being happily situated overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Tunis (also referred to as the Bay of Tunis) and the most important ruins are a stone's throw from the shimmering sea.

Our tour bus stirred up little whirls of sand and dust as we went from place to place to see the Roman ruins in Carthage, for the ruins are not in just one place but spread out over the whole of the city. Some excavations are still being carried out. For this reason, it is best to allow a day or more to visit all the sites and if possible, see the National Museum of Carthage. It is an unearthly feeling to walk the cobblestone paths where Phoenicians and Romans walked thousands of years ago. And I was there!

A Brief History of Carthage

Once known in the Phoenician language as Carth or Kart Hadasht meaning ("new town"), we now know this famous place as Carthage. One of the most historic cities in all of the countries bordered by the Mediterranean, Carthage was founded by the eminent mariners of the age, the Phoenicians. History tells us that in 814 B.C., Phoencian Princess Elyssa Dido founded Carthage. An outpost of ancient Tyre, during the Punic Era, Carthage became the center of a maritime empire in the Mediterranean. Blessed by a strategic postion on the Bay of Tunis, Carthage's prosperity and power ignited the envy and ire of the Romans who saw it as a rival who must necessarily be defeated.

The Romans destroyed Carthage in the Third Punic War (149-146 B.C.). It was rebuilt 100 years later under Octavian Augustus and endowed with public and religious buildings, arenas, villas and all manner of infrastructural works. Carthage relived a period of renewed prosperity under "pax Romana" and intellectual and artistic pursuits flourished. A period of decadence was said to have ushered in the decline of the Roman Empire and Carthage was not left unscathed. Subsequently Tunisia, and consequently Carthage, endured conquest after conquest, the last of which ended with Tunisia being a Protectorate of France for a length of 75 years before becoming independent in 1956. The first President of Tunisia was Habib Ben Ali Bourguiba, who had fought for the independence of Tunisia from France. Bourguiba, a highly educated man, brought Tunisia into the 20th century and championed education and womens' rights. He was President of Tunisia from 1957 to 1987 before being involuntarily retired.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A wealth of historical sites to visit! Close to Sidi Bou Said & Tunis
  • Cons:Be prepared for the heat!!
  • In a nutshell:So much to see!! Allow more than just one day to see everything!
  • Last visit to Carthage: Jul 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (11)

Comments (35)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Feb 29, 2016 at 11:46 PM

    Nice page! We were meant to come here on a cruise, then the port stop was cancelled because of danger at that time in Tunisia.

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Mar 1, 2016 at 8:53 AM

      I was glad to have visited Tunisia (probably just at the right time) but I don't think I would go back these days. Sure wish I could have seen El Jem though!!

    • balhannah's Profile Photo
      Mar 1, 2016 at 2:32 PM

      I was thinking you were so lucky to been able to visit. I wouldn't go there now. It does look and sound interesting. They must be feeling the pinch with ships not stopping there.

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    Mar 1, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Very interesting and well written page

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Oct 31, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    Beautiful city and thanks for sharing such a wonderful adventure! Nice page!

  • mehulraj's Profile Photo
    Oct 24, 2011 at 6:08 AM

    are you working on ship???

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 13, 2011 at 3:17 AM

    Thanks for these detailed and informative tips on Carthage, a city which has certainly had its ups and downs over the centuries. All I remember from school is the one sentence "Carthage must be destroyed!" (Which it was, at least once.)

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Jan 7, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    Dee, great page about this historic Tunisian town. The Cathedral of St. Louis really seems to be a stunning building. - Happy new year 2011 from Germany.

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Jul 4, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    These 5 star tips are extraordinary. This is the second time I've viewed them, and I'm so glad to learn about Carthage. It's a pleasure to read such well written tips that are historic, interesting, and educational.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    Thanks to your informative page, I now know a lot more about a place I knew very little about. Aren't those war cemetries so sad, I always want to visit them though!

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo
    Jan 31, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    It looks like you had a fascinating day in and around Cathage. Thanks for sharing the photos and info.

  • TheTravelSlut's Profile Photo
    Nov 4, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    Thank you..I hope to get here someday... :-) Ann, TS


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