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Sousse
Sousse is located in Tunisia
Sousse
Location in Tunisia
Coordinates: 35°50′N 10°38′E / 35.833°N 10.633°E / 35.833; 10.633
Country Flag of Tunisia.svg Tunisia
Governorate Sousse Governorate
Population (2004)
 - Total 173,047
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)

Sousse (Arabic سوسة Sousa) is a city in Tunisia. Located 140 km south of the capital Tunis, the city has 173,047 inhabitants (2004). Sousse is in the central-east of the country, on the Gulf of Hammamet, which is a part of the Mediterranean Sea. The name may be of Berber origin: similar names are found in Libya and in the south of Morocco (Bilād al-Sūs). The city is the capital of Sousse Governorate with 540,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate). Its economy is based on transport equipment, processed food, olive oil, textiles and tourism. It is home to the Université de Sousse (or Université de Monastir).

Contents

History

In the 11th century B.C., the Phoenicians founded Hadrumetum. The city allied itself with Rome during the Punic Wars, thereby escaping damage or ruin and entered a relatively peaceful 700-year period under the Pax Romana. Livy tells us that Hadrumentum was the landing place of the Roman army under Scipio Africanus in the second Punic War. After the fall of Rome, the Vandals, and later the Byzantines, took over the town, renaming it, respectively, Hunerikopolis and Justinianopolis.

In the 7th century A.D. Arab-Islamic armies conquered what is now Tunisia and rapidly spread Arab culture across what had been a thoroughly Romanized and Christianized landscape. The Arabs seized the city, which in the aftermath of Rome's fall was but a remnant of its former self. They renamed the city Sûsa and within a few decades elevated it to the status of the main seaport of the Aghlabid Dynasty. When the Aghlabids invaded Sicily in 827, Sûsa was their main staging ground.

In the centuries that followed, as Europe gained technological ascendancy and began pushing back at Islam, Sûsa was briefly occupied by the Normans in the 12th century, was later more thoroughly occupied by the Spanish, and in the 18th century was the target of bombardments by the Venetians and the French. The French renamed the city Sousse (actually the city is still called "Sûsa" in Arabic, so no-one renamed it since the Arabs conquered this area: the French just adapted its name for their own language, and the British borrowed it from the French).

Despite the turmoil around it, Sousse's character had retained the solidly Arabian look and feel it had assumed in the centuries after Islam's wars of conquest. Today it is considered one of the best examples of seaward-facing fortifications built by the Arabs. Its ribat, a soaring structure that combined the purposes of a minaret and a watch tower, is in outstanding condition and draws visitors from around the world.

These days, Sousse, with a population of more than 540,000, retains a medieval heart of narrow, twisted streets, a kasbah and medina, its ribat fortress and long wall on the Mediterranean. Surrounding it is a modern city of long, straight roads and more widely spaced buildings.

Historical names

In films

Sousse's old city has apects that made it ideal as a film location. Most famous is the first Indiana Jones movie (1981), where Sousse represents Cairo. It is noteworthy that the styles of Sousse, white-washed houses with blue details, bear no resemblance to the actual architecture of Cairo.

City assets

Sousse panorama
The Ribat of Sousse

Third city of the country after Tunis and Sfax, Sousse owes its status as the undoubted capital of the region to these assets :

  • An olive grove stretching over more than 2,500 square kilometres, constituting one of its main riches since Antiquity
  • A busy port, open to the town centre and giving a touch of gaiety to its activity
  • A medina of great historical interest, surrounded by its fortifications, which continues to live at its own rhythm, harmoniously contrasting with the modern city of typically Mediterranean charm
  • A seaside resort stretching to the north, making up together with the integrated complex of Port El Kantaoui one of the most complete and most diversified tourist zones of the Mediterranean, at only 20 km from the international airport of Monastir. As a sea town, Sousse benefits from a moderate and mild climate promoting all the pleasures which a tourist could desire and making it an all-season resort

Tourism

Sousse beachfront
Medina of Sousse*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Grand Mosque of Sousse, Tunisia, as seen from the tower of the Ribat
State Party  Tunisia
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv, v
Reference 498
Region** Arab States
Inscription history
Inscription 1988  (12th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Sousse is home to many resorts and fine sandy beaches backed by orchards and olive groves. It has a pleasant Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and warm, mild wet winters. It also has a skilled population, and serves as a strategic geographic location.

Although Sousse is associated with olive oil making, this is far from being the only industry in the city. Tourism has become a central activity, with some 1,200,000 visitors every year coming to enjoy its many fine hotels and restaurants, trendy nightclubs, casinos, beaches, sports facilities, museums, and the Medina (the old city).

120 hotels with a capacity of 40,000 beds extend over a 20 km strip from the north of town down south to a traditional downtown area and bazaar, where wares are directed mainly at tourists.

Statistics

  • Population: 220,000 inhabitants (2003 estimate)
  • Altitude: 2 m
  • Humidity: 69%
  • Number of hospitals: (private and public) 15
  • Average Temperatures: (mean temperatures from May to August for the last 30 years)
    • Min: 19.7 °C
    • Max: 29.1 °C
    • Average: 24.4 °C
  • Rainfall average: May: 19.3 mm
    • June: 4 mm
    • July: 1.7 mm
    • August: 10.3 mm

Sights

Sussa3.jpg
Sousse town centre

UNESCO declared the medina of Sousse a World Heritage Site in 1988, citing among other things its preservation from modern development.

Sister cities

References

  1. ^ "Serpukhov Region". http://serpukhov.regio.ru/. Retrieved 2009-04-15.  

External links

Coordinates: 35°50′N 10°38′E / 35.833°N 10.633°E / 35.833; 10.633


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Sousse (سوسة Susa) is in Tunisia.

View over Sousse's medina
View over Sousse's medina

Understand

Sousse is one of the older cities in Tunisia possessing an authentic medina, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a popular tourist destination, particularly with Russian, Serbs, Croats, British, German and East European people. Located on the coast it has good beaches and a clear turquoise sea.

Get in

By plane

The most convenient airport is Monastir which is to the south on the coast, 20 minutes away and frequently used by holiday charter flights; however Tunis is still easily accessible with numerous train and shared taxi options.

By train

Sousse is on the main line from Tunis in the north down to Sfax and Monastir to the south. Example fares from Tunis to Sousse are 12/10/6 dinars in Grand/1st/2nd class.

By car

Highway A1 connects Sousse with Tunis. A toll applies for using the highway. Additionally, Sousse is crossed by National Road 1 (RN1), connecting the city with the south of the country, and Libya. Roads are in very good condition. Additionally, a car ferry connects Sousse with Trapani in Italy once a week i the summer months. Please note that driving in Tunisia can be a very dangerous and harrowing experience, with drivers rarely observing even basic rules of the road, accidents being extremely frequent.

By bus

Buses (car) connect the city with most other parts of Tunisia. Additionally, there is a louage (shared-taxi) service covering the entire country. The far bus station (Gare Routiere) is located in some distance to the west of the Medina at the Souk El Ahad ("Camel Market") - the City bus station is located next to the Medina in the town center). Prices are slightly lower than those of second class train tickets, but many buses do not have air conditioning.

By boat

Car ferries and express boats connect Sousse with Trapani (only in the summer months, once a week for cars and passengers) and Mazara del Vallo via Pantelleria 3 times a week, only for passengers. It takes up to 7-8 hours to Trapani and 5 hours to Mazara del Vallo. Private boats and yachts can use the marina at Port El Kantaoui (a resort about 12 km north of Sousse).

Get around

By taxi

Taxis have a bad reputation and the advice is to agree a price before getting in and ensure that the price is not 'per person'. They do have meters, but the drivers are often reluctant to use them; if you can persuade them ensure it is reset to 0,310 dinar at the start of your journey. Between 9 PM and 5 AM rates are 0,510 dinar/km. However, many drivers have altered their meters, and use "special rates" for tourists. A typical daytime fare between Sousse and Kantaoui, with a proper meter, is 4,100 dinar, but, in most cases, with the meter, the fare will be about 7 dinar. You can, however, agree to a fare of 5-6 dinar before getting in the taxi. Taxis are yellow, and have a taxi license sticker on the windshield.

Shared taxis (Collection taxis, Louages) are large cars or minibuses/people carriers which start their journey when they are full. Well used by the locals, expect to pay 10% of the price of a taxi. Shared taxis can take you further than regular taxis, connecting the city with most bigger towns in Tunisia. Shared taxis for destinations in the same or a closely adjacent city (eg. Hergla, Chott Mariem) are also yellow with a blue stripe on the middle of the taxi. Shared taxis between cities (far connections) are white with a red stripe. In Sousse, there are also white taxis with red, black, blue and yellow stripes serving destinations in the greater Sousse area (eg. Akouda, Hammam-Sousse, Kantaoui, Chott Mariem).

Tuk-Tuk's and Mini-trains can get you a fun ride to Port El Kantaoui, which is about 12 km away. They are open, shared transports and start their journey when they're full (or almost). Expect to pay 2 dinars per journey at the first and 2,5 at the latter. Tuk-tuks are bright purple.

Horse-drawn carriages provide another option for a fun ride to Port El Kantaoui at no more than double the price of a taxi (if you bargain).

See

All of Sousse's sights are located within the labyrinthine medina in the heart of the city.

  • Great Mosque. A surprisingly tranquil place despite its location in the middle of the city. Built c. 850 AD, this mosque is simple and austere in the Aghlabite style, no decoration whatsoever aside from a string of angular Arabic and curved arches. Even the prayer room is covered in reed mats instead of the usual carpet. You must be properly dressed to enter, but green wraps can be rented for a token fee to cover up.
  • Mosaic Museum, in the gently crumbling old kasbah on the edge of the medina.
  • The Traditional Tunisian House. This charming little museum located just within the old city walls some 200 yards north of the main bus terminal is the home of a long standing Tunisian family that has now become a museum with the passing of the last family member.

The property centers on a open courtyard from which access to all the rooms can be gained, including bedrooms for the first and second wife and, in turn, to the children's rooms.

All are delightfully fully furnished, with some curtains dating back 200 years, and with German clocks imported from the 1800's.

The house is complete with a tower, orginally used to watch the stars for the onset of Ramadan, from which views over Sousse can be gained.

  • Ribat.

Whilst not as impressive or extensive as the Ribat in Monastir this fortified holy site is a worthwhile visit and served as home to a branch of Islamic warriors very similar in nature and creed as the Hospitaller Knights that lived in Rhodes. Climbing to the top of the watch tower affords you fantastic views over the Medina.

  • Catacombs

Do

Play golf. There is no golf course in Sousse, but one in Kantaoui and two in Monastir

Buy

Don't expect to have language issues as merchants speak almost anything common (French, English, Spanish, German...) - you can mix all languages if you want.

  • Medina including the souk located in the center of the city. The old section of the city containing the local bazaar, expect to haggle or barter.
  • Soula Centre just outside the souk has fixed prices, it is useful to establish values before bargaining in the souk (of course there is no fun).

Everything is pretty cheap. When bargaining, establish (for you) the price you are willing to pay and drop the price that the merchant asks for half. Negotiate from there, act a little (as they do too) and have fun.

Don't waste your and their time if you don't intend to buy anything. Say nicely and with a smile that you are not interested or that you don't have any money left. However don't feel obliged to buy if you can't agree a price.

Don't keep thinking in the price after you buy something. Think on the good deal that you have made and the price that you would've paid in your home country.

Eat

Two people can have a nice meal for around 10 dinars or less (depends on the place), but prices are generally low. For this you don't have to negotiate prices.

Drink

Drinking tap water is generally not harmful - some people and almost all tourists prefer, though, to use the bottled water that you can find everywhere (very cheap, for around 0,200-0,400 TND for 1/2 liter, 0,300-0,650 for 1.5 liter). Non-carbonated (non-sparkling) water is the most popular, and is called "mineral water". Carbonated water is available as well, but you must specifically ask for water with gas (eau avec gaz) or Garci (the most popular brand).

Expect to find a Coke for around 0,800 to 1,5 TND (depends if in a supermarket or hotel).

The favorite beverage of the locals is tea, with many tea based specialties being available at the many cafes and restaurants around town. A favorite amongst locals is the au menthe (tea with mint leaves and sugar) and the aux ammandes (tea with crushed almonds and almond essence). Most locals will drink it while smoking from the chicha (the local name for a hookah). Expect to be offered tea while buying things of relatively high value (over 60-70 dinar) from shops in the souk.

Being a city in a Muslim country, alcohol may be rather hard to find and quite expensive, because of little demand. Some cafes and stores will sell wine and beer, since many locals also drink these beverages. Expect to pay 2-3 dinar for a 0.3 bottle of local beer (invariably Celtia brand), and 2-12 dinar for a bottle of local wine in a store (double in a bar). Hard alcohol is very hard to find and extremely expensive (more expensive than even in the Nordic Countries), since most locals avoid it. Your best bets are hotel bars (3-6 dinar for 50 ml of vodka or gin) and Magasin General supermarkets (state owned stores, the only ones authorized to sell hard liquor - one is located on 7 November avenue, near the Sousse Palace hotel). A bottle of gin or whiskey is about 80,000-120,000 dinar. No alcohol is sold on Fridays.

Sleep

Don't compare the category directly to european hotels. Expect to take a star (or even two) from these hotels. 4/5 star hotels are recommended.

  • Hôtel de Paris. Spotlessly clean if rather austere hotel near the main entrance to the medina. Small singles from TND 13.
  • Abou-Nawas Boujaafar(4-Stars). Great food and services. Thalasso center with an interior (30'C, salt water) pool, another outside and private beach. 3 restaurants. Deco from the 80's but not expensive. 5 minutes away from the medina and near all transportations.

Stay safe

There's no danger on walking alone at any time. Most streets are very busy till late night. Respect the locals and you will be respected. Crime is nearly non-existent, even if some of the neighborhoods of the city may look shabby or feel dangerous.

Expect some hassle in the souk (medina) and this is most normal. Merchants always try to show their goods/shops and see what you like. You have to get into the spirit to enjoy, always be nice and have a smile on your face. Even if sometimes annoying, this is absolutely not dangerous.

Women may want to avoid the red light area in the north west of the medina, reached through two overlapping walls which screen that street from the rest of the medina. Single women walking alone may be stared at, but, again, this is not dangerous, but rather a curiosity of some local men.

  • Roman Amphitheatre in El Jem (or El Djem), approx 70km due south of Sousse which is better preserved than that at Rome. It was the location for some of the filming in Gladiator.
  • Port El Kantaoui purpose built tourist resort featuring a marina. Said to be both fake and 'touristy', nonetheless caters well for tourist's needs with a good range of restaurants and bars. It has a zoo, but the one at Figuiera is better, and a water park.
  • Friguia Zoo near the town of Enfidha Well cared for animals. Although not in an authentic setting, see lions and elephants in Africa!
  • Sahara Explorer is a two day 750 mile tourist adventure to the edge of the desert, which includes visits to El Djem, Berber caves, salt lakes and a sunset camel ride in the Sahara.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!







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