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The Muslim quarter also houses the former palace of the bey, or ruler.
While in Tunis we recommend a visit to the Bardo, Tunisias National Museum, housed in the former palace of the Husseinite beys whose beginnings go back to the 13th century, and which holds an unrivalled collection of Roman mosaics dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD, amongst other artefacts from the Punic, Greek and early Islamic periods, and artefacts from the shipwreck off Mahdia which went down in 1st century BC.
It was little more than raised land between two inland lakes, invariably chosen as a base for armies besieging nearby Carthage.
The city built its first major mosque, the Great Mosque Zitouna, in 732 BC but did not become a major centre until the 9th century AD when it was added to by the Aghlabid Dynasty and became the chief port of trade between Africa and Europe.
Today Tunis is divided into two parts: the old walled Muslim quarter, the medina, and the newer French quarter (Ville Nouvelle).
The streets of the older section are narrow and winding with many bazaars and mosques.
This picturesque town is perched on top of cliffs with charming buildings in blue and white cascading down the slopes.
It is named for Sidi Bou Said, a 13th-century Sufi holy man who settled here after a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Here you can experience the contrasts of the capital city Tunis with the inland towns and the great expanse of the Sahara Desert..Tunis features on Roman maps dating from the first Punic War (263 241 BC).