Monastir is located 160km from Tunis the capital of Tunisia in the south east and also borders the Gulf of Hammamet to the south. Getting it name from the French word Monstere, Monastir is indeed a monastery.
The town is mostly a fishing port with plenty of Tunisia’s history inscribed on its walls. As the birthplace of Bourguiba, the ex-Tunisian president the town enjoyed a phase of growth and development with its major tourist sight being the Bourguiba mausoleum decorated in green and gold domes with a gilt tipped minaret.
The city was built by the Phoenician and later taken over by the Roman Empire under Caesar. During the Phoenician reign, the city was called Ruspina after a trading station called Rous Penna. Under Caesar, the city was turned into a significant part of the empire as the headquarters thus built 3 walls around it as a fortress during the war with Pompey.
The Arabs took over Monastir in the 8th century establishing a series of monasteries and Ribat making it the most religious town in Tunisia at the time.
Tourist Attractions in Monastir
Bourguiba’s Mausoleum is the main tourist attraction in Monastir. The mausoleum and the mosque were built in 1963 by the first president of Tunisia Habib Bourguiba. Today, the mausoleum is home to his family and a grave were the president was buried. There are 3 domes and 2 minarets which mark the entry to the mausoleum. The mosque is however similar to the mausoleum with teak doors made by the Kairouan artisans and more than 80 pillars in the mosque are made of pink dyed marble to hold the arch.
The Ribat of Harthema is a sight you can not miss when you visit Monastir. The construction of this ribat began in 796AD and was used as a military outpost for many rulers in Monastir. The ribat has seen reconstruction efforts through the year making it a unique feature of Monastir- the walls in the south were built in the 8th century, those from the north are from the 9th century while the rest of it is from the 18th and 19th century. The oldest area is the place around the lookout tower, Nador.
The museum also lies in the oldest part of the Ribat and has an impressive collection of ancient Islamic writings, fabrics, pottery, astrolables and carved roof timber. The main mosque of Monastir is also a few metres from the Ribat. It was initially built in the 9th century making one antique small structure from ancient Tunisia.
The Medina of Monastir has been evolving through the years, reconstruction work has been underway since 1960 to restore the wall and streets that were torn down , this time making there rather spaces and beautiful or modern to say.
The Monastir beach is a very beautiful place to enjoy swimming and sun bathing. Some of the popular beach resorts include Sahara beach, Iti Rosa Beach, Delphin Ribat and Hotel Monastir Beach among other turquoise water beach resorts. Many of Monastir hotels are located on the beach making it rather simple to enjoy the ocean and Monastir’s luxury accommodation.
You can take Tunisia flights from the international airport of Monastir-Skanès which is 7 Km away from the town centre. Next to the Medina is Métro du Sahel from where you can get regular train service to Sousse, Tunis, Gabès and also to the airport. You can also take bus from Gare Routière at Bab el Gharbi which is located on the west-side of the Medina. The bus services connect you to Tunis, Sousse, Mahdia, Hammamet, Sfax and also some places in Sahel.
Monastir Hotels and Accommodation
The city is dotted with some excellent options for overnight and accommodation in its wide range of up market and budget hotels. From the Club Caribbean World monastir, guests have a full range of cocktails and drinks from the well stocked bar, enjoy the lustrous gardens, swimming pool and fully furnished guest rooms. Delphin Monastir Habib Hotel is a four star resort with private verandas for each rooms, well conditioned guest rooms, satellite television, swimming pool and full access to the beach. Other resorts and hotels in Monastir include One Resort Monastir, Royal Thalasssa monastir, Sahara beach and Houda Golf and Beach club among other good options. It doesn’t matter whether it is for business or tourist accommodation. There are options for each guest!