If you want to enjoy a perfect holiday in Tunisia, come and explore one of the best kept secrets of Northern Africa: the beautiful coastal town of Mahdia. This port city is located on a peninsula on the eastern coast, 235 km southeast of the country's capital Tunis, 70 km from Sousse and 50 km from Monastir. Moreover it is the most important fishing port in the country and is highly valued for its food, history and beaches. Come and check it out by staying at the Iberostar Selection Royal El Mansour hotel in Mahdia.
This town of almost 70,000 inhabitants, whose name derives from the Fatimid caliph al-Mahdi Ubayd Allah (909-934), has everything to captivate its visitors. With a typically Mediterranean climate, average annual temperatures of 19 °C and little rain, this destination is ideal for a getaway with your partner, family or friends.
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This picturesque city is perfect for losing yourself in its narrow streets and sightseeing at many magnificent monuments. One of which is the Great Mosque. Built in 921, it was the first building of its kind built by the Fatimids. Other attractions to visit include the Medina, the Place du Caire and the Mosque of Mustafá Hamza, among others.
Another site worth visiting is the Skifa Kahla (or Bab Zouila, that is, the 'dark door' or 'Zawila gate'). It is a large 16th century fortified gate which is a reconstruction of a previous structure destroyed by the Spanish in 1554, as they left the city.
We also recommend visiting the Burj el Kebir fort located between Ras Ifriqya and the Mediterranean. The name means 'Great Castle', and it was constructed by the Turks in 1595, during the government of Abu Abdallah Mohammad Pasha. The corners bastions were added in the 18th century. Although the current building, which is easily accessed from the old city, lacks decoration it offers extraordinary views.
Next to this fort is an evocative marine cemetery, repository of thousands of white tombs that have been placed anarchically for centuries. Nearby, you will have the opportunity to visit the old port of Mahdia, the work of the Fatimids and possibly used by the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians in the past. It was here that the Genoese landed in 1087.
As you can see from the first moment, the picturesque doors of Mahdia have some special characteristics. Some of those found in the old town, whether in mosques or private homes, use materials from the Roman era; there is even one house which exhibits a Punic half column. Although they are of different colours, the predominant tone is green.
In the square that accesses the old town and next to Skifa Kahla gate is the Mahdia Museum. The museum has extensive collections of Punic, Roman and Byzantine North African culture and also has a section dedicated to underwater archaeology including two marble columns from the Mahdia shipwreck. The wreck is a Greek vessel sunk during a storm in the 1st century BC containing many works of art and sculptures of marble and bronze. Two separate rooms show jewels and coins from different eras, as well as looms used in the region.
Please note however that many of the pieces salvaged from the famous Mahdia shipwreck are currently housed in the Bardo Museum in the capital city Tunis.
Next to the museum, from a small patio, you can climb to the tower above the Skifa Kahla gate, and from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the old town.
Don't forget that Mahdia is between Bekalta and Salakta, in an area with outstanding archaeological sites and is well, prepared for tourism.
If, after soaking up the local culture, you want to relax, then there is plenty for you in Mahdia. There are extensive beaches of fine sand bathed by the Mediterranean just waiting for you. The most beautiful beaches can be found in the northern part of the city, but if you really want to let off some steam, there are many companies that organize snorkelling and diving trips.
It is also worth noting that Mahdia is located near a huge olive grove. This is why the town has a large number of traditional oil mills producing traditional soaps and some of the best olive oil in Tunisia. - Perfect to take back as a gift.
Of course, you should not overlook the delicious Tunisian cuisine, an exotic mix of North African and Mediterranean cuisine. It also has a lot of similarities with Turkish cuisine, due to the occupation of the Ottoman Empire. The region has a host of culinary peculiarities, due to the climate, geography, basic foods and cultural influences.
Among the dishes that you must try are the méchouia salad, made with grilled vegetables and olive oil; chorba frik, a tomato and wheat stew cinnamon and cloves; the lablabi, a traditional chickpeas soup; brik, a puff pastry pasties stuffed with egg and minced meat, tuna or prawns, and of course couscous.
Iberostar Hotels & Resorts has a 5-star All-Inclusive holiday resort in Mahdia: the Iberostar Selection Royal El Mansour, located on the seafront, with direct access to the beach, swimming pool, thalassotherapy options, a Turkish bath, a hammam, a gym and much, much more.
To make you feel at home, if not better, you will find a choice of food prepared for you, a complete entertainment programme for the whole family and rooms designed in great detail. In addition, the Iberostar Selection Royal El Mansour hotel has modern facilities for holding congresses and business meetings.
Look at our Tunisia hotel offers: we also have hotels in Sousse, Hammamet and Djerba-, book your room and get ready to visit one of the best kept secrets of North Africa. We are convinced that it will not be the last time you visit us.
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