Added to Unesco's World Heritage List in 1988, Sousse's 9th-century medina is an unusual and important example of Aghlabid military coastal architecture. It retains its kasbah, ramparts, Great Mosque and ribat, and still has a large residential population (35,300 at the last official census). The main pedestrian thoroughfares are Rue El Aghlaba, which runs east–west, and jam-packed Rue de France, running north–south. The most atmospheric shopping areas are Souq Er Ribba and its extension, Souq El Kayed.

The massive walls of the medina stretch 2.25km at a height of 8m and are fortified with a series of solid square turrets. They were built by the Aghlabids in AD 859 on the foundations of the city’s original Byzantine walls. Within the walls are 24 mosques (12 for men and 12 for women).

The main entrance to the medina is at the northeastern corner at Pl des Martyrs. The area was created when Allied bombs blew away this section of the wall in 1943 during WWII. Of the other gates, the most historically interesting is Bab El Finga (meaning Gate of the Blade); the French set up their guillotine just outside.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sousse attractions

1. Kalat El Koubba

0.05 MILES

The rooms surrounding the courtyard of this funduq (caravanserai) contain naff mannequin displays of day-to-day life under the Ottomans. The building is…

2. Souq Er Ribba

0.06 MILES

This souq and its western extension, Souq El Kayed, are the closest Sousse comes to a medieval bazaar. The roof is unmistakably modern, yet the sales…

3. Zaouia Zakkak

0.11 MILES

The splendid octagonal stone minaret belongs to the 17th-century Zaouia Zakkak, the medina’s leading example of Ottoman architecture. Its blue-green stone…

4. Great Mosque

0.15 MILES

This typically austere Aghlabid affair was built in AD 851. Its architect adapted an earlier kasbah (fort), which explains the mosque’s turrets and…

5. Ribat

0.15 MILES

This is the oldest monument in Sousse's medina, built in the final years of the 8th century AD as a fort. It was garrisoned by devout Islamic warriors,…

6. Musée Dar Essid

0.16 MILES

In a quiet part of Sousse's medina, this privately owned museum shows off a beautiful old home, furnished in the style of a well-to-do 19th-century Sousse…

7. Kasbah

0.23 MILES

Standing at the high point of the medina, the kasbah was built onto the city walls in the 11th century. It incorporates the imposing square Khalef tower,…

8. Sousse Archaeological Museum

0.23 MILES

Located inside the 11th-century kasbah, this museum showcases an extraordinary collection of 2nd- and 3rd-century Roman mosaics, one of the best in the…