Although the beaches of Monastir are the main attraction in this destination, this town also offers many corners, buildings and monuments that deserve the traveller’s attention. As with other Tunisian locations, one of its most characteristic features is the presence of a ribat, a fortress or kashba that rises in the heart of the city, whose function in the past was to protect commercial routes. The ribat of Monastir, of 4,200 m2, is the oldest in Maghreb, since it dates to 796.
Next to this fortification stands the Great Mosque, from the 9th century, which was extended in times of the Ziri dynasty (972-1152). Admire the ribbed vaults that embellish its prayer room and enter its arched gallery with pointed arches. However, the most characteristic element is its beautiful golden dome.
Another place of worship is the Burguiba mosque. Built in 1963 by Tayyeb Buzguenda, its structure is clearly inspired by the Hammuda Pachá mosque in the city of Tunis. Its prayer room, which can hold up to 1,000 people, has 86 columns in pink marble. Do not miss its 19 hand-carved teak doors.
To the north of the ribat, you will find the cemetery of Sidi el-Mezeri. Its interior accommodates the mausoleum of Habib Burguiba, the nationalist leader who became the first president of Tunisia and who governed the country for three decades. This is where the remains of every Habib Burguiba family member rest. The place is relatively new, since the president, who is also buried there, died in 2000.
Spend some time at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a simple monument located on Tunis street, right where the avenue leading to Habib Burguiba's mausoleum starts. There, tribute is paid to the Tunisian fighters who died fighting for the independence of the country. The monument is crowned by a sober white dome.
As for the museums of Monastir, we encourage you to approach the Museum of Traditional Costume, located opposite the entrance to the Burguida Mosque. Its rooms show the traditional gowns from all Tunisia, as well as a large collection of wedding dresses and jewellery. In turn, in the street of Trabelsia you will find the Musée du Mouvement National or Museum of the National Movement, dedicated to the history of the country's struggle for its independence.
About 15 km (9,3 miles) southeast of Monastir, you will reach Lamta, which preserves the remains of the ancient Roman colony of Leptis Minor. After the fall of Carthage, this settlement became a free city.
An excursion from Monastir that boasts great reviews is the one that leads to the town of Moknine, famous for its pottery workshops and the Sidi Babana mosque.
Pay attention to another attraction that we could not forget to mention just 60 km (37,3 miles) away: the El Djem amphitheatre, or Thysdrus coliseum. This imposing Roman jewel built in 238 AD by the proconsul Gordian was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 and receives more than half a million visitors annually.