Museums and Heritage
The Sousse Archaeological Museum
The Sousse Archeology Museum is located within the Kasbah (fortification) of the medina (old city) of Sousse, a World Heritage Site.
At the entrance of the museum, a large vaulted room displays the history and the monuments of the Sahel region from Antiquity to the Muslim period.
Located under the Kasbah’s main courtyard, the museum galleries cover an area of approximately 2,000 sq. meters, benefitting from natural and artificial light enhancing the beauty of the collections and their display. The museum includes mosaics, sculptures, lapidaries, and terracotta funerary objects, originating from a number of sites of the ancient Sahel region.
The mosaic floorings of Roman origin, which constitute one of the most important collections of the Mediterranean, are displayed at a level lower than the visitors’ or are fixed on panels. These mosaics, through their vibrant colors and their artistic compositions, illustrate beliefs, games, the arts, and, most of all, daily life.
Three rooms display in dim light the funerary rituals of the Punic, Roman and Christian periods.
The Punic room displays the famous collection of steles and urns found in the Tophet of Sousse, the antic Adrim (Hadrumete), as well as the objects from the tombs discovered in the Kasbah.
The Dar Essid Museum
This small, private museum is also not to be missed. In a quiet part of the medina, it occupies a beautiful old home, furnished in the style of a well-to-do 19th-century Sousse official and his family. The dimensions of the elaborately decorated, arched door are the first indication of the owner’s status. It opens into a small anteroom for meeting strangers, and then into a tiled courtyard surrounded by the family rooms. There’s an extravagance reflected in the Andalusian tiled facades and items ranging from European antique furniture to traditional perfume bottles, from decorative plaster work to a 700-year-old wedding contract, and marble from Carrara in Italy. Check out the Roman lamp with the graphic depiction of a copulating couple; it’s by the master bed to remind the husband to demonstrate his control and stamina until the lamp went out.
Museum El Kobba
Located inside the medina, infront of jewelers shops , is known for its dome folds in zigzag unique in Tunisia.
In the nineteenth century, the Kobba housed the caravanserai of the French and then, until the Sixties,served as a hostel
From its terrace, one has a splendid view over the roofs of covered souks and the labyrinth of alleys.
The Sousse Catacombs
This underground necropolis was created towards the end of the first century by Christians to bury their dead during periods of persecution. The Sousse catacombs are formed of galleries stretching over 5 kilometres and containing no les than 15.000 graves.
The tombs were dug into the walls of the galleries on two or three levels. One notes the presence of niches at more or less regular intervals along the wall. They used to contain the oil lamps whose dim light used to light the labyrinth.
The Catacombs were used as a clandestine cemetery but also as a place of worship and a refuge for the first Christian faithful until the end of the IVth century. They also contained many sacred artefacts that are now displayed in the Sousse museum: epitaphs, marble carved with sacred symbols (fish, doves, the Good Shepherd etc.)
The Great Mosque of Sousse
Built in the early IXth century, remodelled and extended during the Xth and XVIIth centuries, it is adjacent to the Ribat, from which it has inherited the fortified aspect with a crenellated surrounding wall flanked by two watchtowers facing the shore, from where assailants from overseas could have appeared.
A small door leads into the building and gives into a vast courtyard surrounded by porticos with arcades dating to the XVIIth century. The prayer room, as vast as the courtyard, is surmounted by two cupolas with shells; its roofing is supported by masonry pillars and its mihrab oriented towards Mecca, is richly decorated.