The Tunisian town of Monastir is a crossroads of three cultures - Arabic, Berber and European, product of its past as a French protectorate - as well as a place that combines its status as a holy and university city with the attractions of a beach destination. The Iberostar hotel in Monastir opens its doors in this location, an unbeatable option to enjoy this Mediterranean town at your own pace.
Located on a steep cape south of the Hammamet Gulf, 17 km (10.5 miles) southeast of Sousse and 162 km (82 miles) away from the city of Tunis, Monastir is a short distance from the Monastir-Habib Bourguiba International Airport in Skanès, which has helped it to become one of the most visited corners of the Maghreb coasts.
The tourist area of Monastir extends to Skanès and La Dkhila to the north, and to the south, across the governorate of Mahdia. Traditional activities coexist there, such as the extraction of salt in the nearby salt mines, fishing or the cultivation of olive trees, with a host of cultural and leisure activities that will make your holiday in Tunisia an unforgettable experience.
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.
Whatever the time of the year in which your trip to Tunisia takes place, the beaches of Monastir are a must. Located near Skanès, they are the main tourist complex in this town. Besides being very extensive and well maintained, they are also excellently communicated, since they can be accessed by train or taxi. Not only is it an ideal space for swimming or sunbathing, but it also offers the possibility of practicing water sports, such as sailing, windsurfing or kite surfing.
In any case, this is not the only option to unleash adrenaline: near the ribat you will find a modern marina or promenade, perfect for water sports. There you can rent a sailing or motor boat with which to navigate the coast at your own pace. Moreover, the area has many bars and restaurants where you can taste the exquisite Tunisian cuisine. Take advantage of your holiday in Monastir to savour the salade tunisienne, a salad with fresh orchard products and some fish or seafood; brick, an irresistible puff pastry stuffed with eggs, and the unfailing couscous.
Do you feel like relaxing? In that case, we recommend you walk along the Gouvernorat square, located between the promenade (or Route de la Corniche) and the medina. There you will discover an ideal craft centre to do your shopping in Monastir before returning home. Not far away, there is also a theatre and the Palace of Congresses of Monastir.
On the other hand, those who seek even more peace and quiet can take a trip to Khniss, a municipality located 5 km (3,1 miles) south of Monastir with all services, but less crowded than other places on the Tunisian coast.
From your hotel in Monastir, all these ideas will be closer than ever. Book your room and come and enjoy them.
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