Kairouan Medina

sights / Architecture

Lonely Planet review

Less commercial than other medinas in the country, Kairouan's feels even more like it ebbs and flows to a different rhythm than modern Tunisia. Most of it is given over to quiet residential streets whose rather derelict façades are set off by grand and ornate doors, and windows, arches and shutters in bright blues and greens, more reminiscent of the Caribbean than of North Africa.

It's possible to wander much of the medina without being confronted by a single souvenir-buying opportunity as virtually all of the commerce is restricted to the main north-south thoroughfare of ave 7 Novembre. Here you'll find several carpet shops selling high quality products and all the usual trinkets for sale to tourists.

The first walls of the medina were built towards the end of the 8th century, but those you'll see today date mainly from the 18th century. Of the numerous gates, the oldest is Bab el-Khoukha, which features a horseshoe arch supported by columns. It was built in 1706.