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Ribat, Sousse: 13 reviews and 45 photos

Northwest of the Great Mosque in Sousse rises the tower of the Ribat, a conspicuous landmark in the town and one of the finest examples of Islamic religious architecture in Tunisia. This was one of a chain of fortified monasteries built by the Aghlabids along the coasts of Tunisia around the 8th century AD, only a few of which have been preserved. The ribats were occupied by warrior monks, fighters in the "holy war", who in times of peace devoted themselves to their religious duties and worked for the propagation of the faith in the interior of the country. In times of danger the ribats offered the population protection from enemy attack and served as bases for offensive and defensive action against the enemy. It has been suggested that these Muslim warrior monks provided a model which was followed in the later Christian knightly orders.

With the construction of the Kasbah at the southwest corner of the Medina the Ribat lost its military significance, and from the 11th century it gradually fell into a state of disrepair. Large-scale restoration work was carried out when it was converted into a medersa (Koranic school) in 1722. It was again thoroughly restored in the 1950s, and now ranks, with the Ribat of Monastir, as one of the best preserved in Tunisia.

The Ribat is believed to have been built about 787 on an almost exactly square ground-plan measuring 38m/125ft each way. Its 13.5m/44ft high outer walls are reinforced by four corner towers and three other towers along the sides. At the southeast corner of the Ribat stands the Nador, a 27m/89ft high circular watch-tower, slightly tapering towards the top, which was added in 821. From the top there are fine views of the Medina and the Harbour. The only entrance to the Ribat, a rectangular gatehouse, is on the south side. The arched gateway features two Roman columns with Byzantine imposts. More photo's can be found in one of my travelogues.

Admission: TD3 plus TD1 for camera.

Phone: 98401502

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Mar 1, 2008
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