Kairouan, Tunisia - August 30, 2015: Almost all the stalls in Souq El-Blaghija market are closed after midday that's why it could be used as parking for cycles and scooters.

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Top choice in Tunisia

Kairouan’s medina feels like it ebbs and flows to a different rhythm to modern Tunisia. Long protected by its monumental walls and babs (gates), most of it is given over to quiet residential streets that have changed little over the centuries, with modest houses sporting arches and shutters painted in bright blues and greens. Particularly atmospheric pockets include the small squares near the babs and the covered souq quarter just north of the main north–south pedestrian thoroughfare, Ave 7 Novembre.

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.

The medina's best-known building is the 9th-century Great Mosque, one of the most important religious buildings in the Islamic world. There are also a number of important zaouias (complexes surrounding the tomb of a saint).

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 Ave 7 Novembre and the covered souq.

Here, more than anywhere else in Tunisia, the town becomes eerily deserted during Friday afternoon prayers. Sundays and evenings are also very quiet.

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