Punic Ports


Today, only the shape of these legendary ports, the coveted basis of Carthage’s power and prosperity, remains. A narrow channel linked the southern, oblong merchant port to the northern circular naval port. This arrangement meant that the military port was hidden from outside, but the Carthaginian navy could see out to sea. The military base had moorings for an incredible 220 vessels in dry docks and around the quay-lined edge. The 7-hectare commercial port was bordered by quays and warehouses.

The ports were filled in by Scipio after Carthage’s destruction in 146 BC, but in the 2nd century AD the Romans reinvented the islet as a circular forum, with two temples, and used the port to house their merchant fleet, which shipped wheat to Rome. Rises in the sea level meant the quay walls had to be raised several times. By the end of the 6th century the harbour had fallen into disuse.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Carthage attractions

1. Oceanographic Museum

0.12 MILES

Near the ports, this museum contains enthusiastic displays of model boats, conservation methods and stuffed, pickled and live wildlife, from giant whale…

2. Sanctuary of Tophet

0.29 MILES

Originally dedicated to the deities Baal Hammon and Tanit, this Carthaginian sacrificial site and burial ground is dotted with stubby stelae engraved with…

3. Magon Quarter

0.54 MILES

This area along Rue Septime Sévère is a few blocks south of the Antonine Baths. Excavations have uncovered a small area of Roman workshops superimposed on…

4. Byrsa Hill

0.56 MILES

In Punic times, Byrsa Hill was occupied by a temple to the Carthaginian god Eschmoun. The Romans destroyed most of the Punic structures – all that remains…

5. Carthage Museum

0.58 MILES

Sitting on the crest of Byrsa Hill and housed in an early-20th-century building that once functioned as a Catholic seminary, this museum is one of the…

6. L’Acropolium

0.61 MILES

The architect of this now deconsecrated 19th-century French-built cathedral employed an unorthodox mix of Moorish, Byzantine and Gothic architectural…

7. Galerie d'Art Essaadi

0.74 MILES

Owned and operated by photographer Mohamed Ali Essaadi, this space stages individual and group shows by young and emerging artists.

8. Antonine Baths

0.79 MILES

The Romans chose a sublime seaside setting for this monumental terme (bath complex), a short walk downhill from the Roman villas. Begun under Hadrian and…