Tunisia is frequently only associated architecturally with the stereotypical white houses with blue doors and windows found in coastal cities and epitomized by Sidi Bou Said. However, there is much more to Tunisian architecture.
The Tunisian Architecture
Tunisia has been home to numerous civilizations. Tunisian architecture has long inspired not only architects, but also researchers, scientists, and artists. It has always been a mystery that gradually unfolds. Additionally, it is not a single style, but a collection of them that evolves over time in response to changing political and religious events, while remaining connected by some commonalities.
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The South: Matmata’s Troglodyte’s Houses
Matmata, a Berber village, is famous for its underground “troglodyte” structures. The village appears in both the movie”Star Wars” and the video game “Call of Duty.”
The South: Djerba’s Ibadite Architecture
Djerba is famous for its starkly white simple Ibadite mosques and houses, which contrast with the island’s crystal blue beaches. A similar style of architecture can be found in the Libyan city of Ghadames.
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South: The Clay Bricks of Tozeur and Nefta
Tozeur and Nefta in the south are well-known for their traditional architecture made of locally produced yellowish clay bricks.
The North’s Red Tiled Houses
You can see such houses in Ain Drahem, Bni Mtir, Beja, Tabraka, Manzel Bourguiba, Jendouba and other Northeastern cities.
The North: Testour and Zaghouan’s Andalusian Architecture
Numerous towns and cities in Northern Tunisia feature Andalusian architecture, but Testour and Zaghouan are the most emblematic.
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South: The Architecture of Chenini and Douiret
These Berber villages are famous for their houses carved into the side of a mountain. The villages are perched high above the rocky and arid southern landscape.
The North: The Moorish Ottoman Architecture of Tunis
Tunis’s medina is known for its paved small streets and alleys, courtyards, souks, mosques, and palaces. It reflects a variety of architectural influences, the majority of which are Moorish and Ottoman.
North: Tunis and its Surroundings
Tunis’ French colonial art Nouveau architecture. Also, it is found in la Marsa.
The Arab Medieval Fortresses
Those are found in Sfax, Sousse, Monastir, Kairouan and different other cities around Tunisia. Some of those fortresses serve as mosques at the same time. These rocky robust structures were build especially during the Aghlabid era in order to protect the cities from Byzantine maritime attacks.
The North & Center
The high altitude rock based architecture of the Berber villages/cities of Zriba Olaya (Center), Kesra (northwest), Takrouna (Sahel), Gafsa (Center/Southwest) , etc.
South: The Ksours of the South
Numerous Ksours are located in the south of the country, in Medenine and Tataouine (more than 90). They were used to store resources by Berber tribes and later Arab tribes.
Coastal cities such as Hammamet, Sousse, Monastir, Mahdia, Hergla, Bizerte, Tabarka, Kelibia, etc, are the most touristic and often share similar white houses & blue or green doors/windows aesthetics of Sidi Bousaid. They usually have ancient forts and a medina.
Center: Kairouanese Architecture
The city is known for its carpets and Mosques. Its legendary mosque, the Great Mosque of Kairouan, was used as an architectural reference for the mosques of The Maghreb and Al Andalus.
The North: Especially the Cap Bon region
Italian and French Colonial farms and train stations are widespread in northern Tunisia, particularly in the rural areas of the Cap Bon and the North. While the majority have deteriorated, some have been reconverted into rural guest houses.
Northwest: Kefi Architecture
The white and green aesthetics of the city of Kef.
Sephardic Jewish Architecture
Sephardic architecture has traditionally been regarded as an elegant, opulent art form. The style was heavily influenced by Tunisia’s Moorish architecture, but there were few Moorish-style synagogues remaining in Tunisia.
Following the conquest by the Muslims, Roman and Byzantine architectural elements survived and were absorbed into other styles.
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