Top things to do

Mosque in Kairouan

Great Mosque

The Great Mosque, in the northeast corner of the medina, is North Africa’s holiest Islamic site. It’s also known as Sidi Okba Mosque, after the founder of Kairouan who built the first mosque here in AD 670. The orig…
Arts & Crafts in Kairouan


An 18th-century residence of the former beys or pashas of Kairouan, now a carpet shop called Tapis-Sabra, is an exquisitely restored medina house and an extravagant counterpoint to the austerity of the Aghlabids. Th…
Architecture in Kairouan

Aghlabid Basins

These cisterns, built by the Aghlabids in the 9th century, are more impressive because of their engineering sophistication than as sights in themselves. Water was delivered by aqueduct from the hills 36km west of Ka…
Museum in Kairouan

Raqqada Islamic Art Museum

This museum occupies a former presidential palace at Raqqada, 9km south of Kairouan. Exhibits on display here include a model of the Great Mosque of Kairouan, a faithfully reproduced plaster copy of the mihrab, lots…
Mosque in Kairouan

Mosque of the Three Doors

Some 250m northeast of the Bir Barouta, the Mosque of the Three Doors was founded in AD 866 by Mohammed Bin Kairoun El Maafri, a holy man from the Spanish city of Cordoba. The interior is closed to non-Muslims, but …
Tomb in Kairouan

Zaouia of Sidi Amor Abbada

This zaouia (complex surrounding the tomb of a saint) identifiable by its seven white cupolas, was built in 1860 around the tomb of Sidi Amor Abbada, a local blacksmith with a gift for prophecy. He specialised in th…
Tomb in Kairouan

Zaouia of Sidi Abid El Ghariani

Just inside Bab Ech Chouhada, the restored Zaouia of Sidi Abid El Ghariani dates from the 14th century and contains some fine woodcarving and stuccowork. The zaouia (complex surrounding the tomb of a saint) also hou…
Tomb in Kairouan

Zaouia Sidi Sahab

Northwest of the medina is this 17th-century place tiled in luminescent colours and known as the 'barber mosque', because it contains the mausoleum of one of the Prophet's companions, Abu Zama El Belaoui, who used t…
Historic Site in Kairouan

Bir Barouta

Here a blinkered camel walks in a circle, drawing water from a holy well said to be connected to Mecca. Stagey, yes, but the well forms a large part of the city's foundation story, and is also an important spiritual…
Tunisian in Kairouan

Roi du Couscous

A raucous place by Tunisian standards, this restaurant-bar is filled with men, smoke and beer, even in the middle of the day. It’s not exactly the cleanest place in town but big servings of couscous are on offer.