Saturday, 8 June 2019


Kairouan was the second UNESCO site we visited in Tunisia. It wasn't in my initial plans but I'm glad we did it because it was the highest point of the trip. Just for the Great Mosque is already worth it, but there's more to see.

Kairouan, also spelled Kairwan, is the capital of the Kairouan Governorate in TunisiaThe city was founded by the Umayyads around 670. In the period of Caliph Mu'awiya (reigned 661–680), it became an important centre for Sunni Islamic scholarship and Quranic learning, and thus attracting a large number of Muslims from various parts of the world, next only to Mecca and Medina. - in: wikipedia

Mosque of Uqba

The Great Mosque of Kairouan, also known as the Mosque of Uqba, is a mosque situated in the UNESCO World Heritage town of KairouanTunisia.
Established by the Arab general Uqba ibn Nafi in 670 (the year 50 according to the Islamic calendar) at the founding of the city of Kairouan, the mosque is spread over a surface area of 9,000 square metres and it is one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world, as well as a model for all later mosques in the Maghreb. The Great Mosque of Kairouan is one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa; its perimeter is almost equal to 405 metres (1,328 feet). This space contains a hypostyle prayer hall, a marble-paved courtyard and a square minaret. In addition to its spiritual prestige, the Mosque of Uqba is one of the masterpieces of Islamic architecture, notable among other things for the first Islamic use of the horseshoe arch.

Mosque of Uqba

The minaret, which occupies the centre of the northern façade of the complex's enclosure, is 31.5 metres tall and is seated on a square base of 10.7 metres on each side. It is located inside the enclosure and does not have direct access from the outside. It consists of three tapering levels, the last of which is topped with a small ribbed dome that was most probably built later than the rest of the tower.] The first and second stories are surmounted by rounded merlons which are pierced by arrowslits. The minaret served as a watchtower, as well as to call the faithful to prayer.

Mosque of Uqba
This postcard was sent from Finland by Heidi

The prayer hall is located on the southern side of the courtyard; and is accessed by 17 carved wooden doors. A portico with double row of arches precede the spacious prayer hall, which takes the shape of a rectangle of 70.6 metres in width and 37.5 metres' depth.
The central nave, a sort of triumphal alley which leads to the mihrab, is significantly higher and wider than the other sixteen aisles of the prayer hall.
Enlightened by impressive chandeliers which are applied in countless small glass lamps, the nave opens into the south portico of the courtyard by a monumental delicately carved wooden door, made in 1828 under the reign of the Husainids. - in: wikipedia

Mosque of the Barber

The Mausoleum of Sidi Sahab, generally known as the Mosque of the Barber, is actually a zaouia located inside the city walls. It was built by the Muradid Hammuda Pasha Bey (mausoleum, dome and court) and Murad II Bey (minaret and madrasa). In its present state, the monument dates from the 17th century.
The mosque is a veneration place for Abu Zama' al-Balaui, a companion of the prophet Muhammad, who, according to a legend, had saved for himself three hairs of Muhammad's beard, hence the edifice's name. The sepulchre place is accessed from a cloister-like court with richly decorated ceramics and stuccoes. - in: wikipedia

Aghlabid Bassins

The hydraulic ensemble, built in the 9th century by the Aghlabid Dynasty, has provided water for townspeople in Kairouan for more than a millennium. The Aghlabid Basins are composed of two connected cisterns which together form an open-air reservoir, fed by a 36-mile aqueduct that sources water from the hills beyond town. Water flowed into the smaller pool, which serves as a sort of filter, collecting stray sediments before the water is transferred to the larger basin, which is an impressive 16 feet deep and 420 feet in diameter.
The basins would fill up with rainwater, which would be used for washing or for emergency hydration, though contamination always posed a major risk. Still, the system is remarkably sophisticated engineering feat for its time, and considered the largest hydraulic installation of the Middle Ages. - in:

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