Golf and resort town Hammamet in Tunisia

25 September 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Old city of Hammamet © Mahdi Chaker/cc-by-sa-3.0

Old city of Hammamet © Mahdi Chaker/cc-by-sa-3.0

Hammamet is a town in Tunisia. Thanks to its beaches, it is a popular destination for swimming and water sports and is one of the primary tourist destinations in Tunisia. It is located in the south-eastern section of Cap Bon and is part of the Nabeul Governorate. The reported number of inhabitants varies from 100,000 to 400,000 and the population quadruples due to tourists’ arrival in the summer.   read more…

Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca

16 September 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

© BenSlivka/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Hassan II Mosque (Grande Mosquée Hassan II) is a mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest functioning mosque in Africa and is the 7th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s second tallest minaret at 210 metres (689 ft). Completed in 1993, it was designed by Michel Pinseau under the guidance of King Hassan II and built by Moroccan artisans from all over the kingdom. The minaret is 60 stories high topped by a laser, the light from which is directed towards Mecca. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean; worshippers can pray over the sea but there is no glass floor looking into the sea. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside ground.   read more…

Kutubiyya Mosque in Marrakesh

12 August 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

© Baca12/cc-by-sa-4.0

© Baca12/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Kutubiyya Mosque or Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in Marrakesh in Morocco. The mosque’s name is also variably rendered as Jami’ al-Kutubiyah, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers. It is located in the southwest medina quarter of Marrakesh, near the famous public place of Jemaa el-Fna, and is flanked by large gardens. All the names and spellings of Kutubiyya Mosque are based on the Arabic word kutubiyyin, which means “booksellers”. The Koutoubia Mosque, or Bookseller’s Mosque, reflects the honorable bookselling trade practiced in the nearby souk. At one time as many as 100 book vendors worked in the streets at the base of the mosque.   read more…

Market place Jemaa el-Fnaa in Marrakesh

10 June 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

© Boris Macek/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Boris Macek/cc-by-sa-3.0

Jemaa el-Fnaa is a square and market place in Marrakesh‘s medina quarter (old city). It remains the main square of Marrakesh, used by locals and tourists. Marrakesh was founded by the Almoravid Dynasty in 1070 by Abu Bakr ibn Umar and subsequently developed by his successors. Initially, the city’s two main monuments and focal points were the fortress known as Ksar el-Hajjar (“fortress of stone”) and the city’s first Friday mosque (the site of the future Ben Youssef Mosque). The Ksar el-Hajjar was located directly north of today’s Koutoubia Mosque. The major souk (market) streets of the city thus developed along the roads linking these two important sites and still correspond to the main axis of souks today. At one end of this axis, next to the Ksar el-Hajjar, a large open space existed for temporary and weekly markets. This space was initially known as Rahbat al-Ksar (“the place of the fortress”). Other historical records refer to it as as-Saha al-Kubra (“the grand square”), or simply as as-Saha or ar-Rahba.   read more…

The Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai

1 March 2018 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, House of the Month, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean

Saint Catherine's Monastery in front of Mount Sinai © flickr.com - Joonas Plaan/cc-by-2.0

Saint Catherine’s Monastery in front of Mount Sinai © flickr.com – Joonas Plaan/cc-by-2.0

Saint Catherine’s Monastery, officially “Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai”, lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai, in the city of Saint Catherine, Egypt in the South Sinai Governorate. The monastery is controlled by the autonomous Church of Sinai, part of the wider Eastern Orthodox Church, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 548 and 565, the monastery is one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. The site contains the world’s oldest continually operating library, possessing many unique books including the Syriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus. A small town with hotels and swimming pools, called Saint Katherine City, has grown around the monastery.   read more…

Theme Week Libya – Tripoli

25 November 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Istiqlal Street © Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni

Istiqlal Street © Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni

Tripoli is the capital city and the largest city of Libya. Tripoli, with its metropolitan area, has a population of about 1.1 million people. The city is located in the northwestern part of Libya on the edge of the desert, on a point of rocky land projecting into the Mediterranean and forming a bay. Tripoli includes the Port of Tripoli and the country’s largest commercial and manufacturing centre. It is also the site of the University of Tripoli. The vast Bab al-Azizia barracks, which includes the former family estate of Muammar Gaddafi, is also located in the city. Colonel Gaddafi largely ruled the country from his residence in this barracks. Tripoli was founded in the 7th century BC by the Phoenicians, who named it Oea. Due to the city’s long history, there are many sites of archaeological significance in Tripoli. “Tripoli” may also refer to the shabiyah (top-level administrative division in the current Libyan system), the Tripoli District.   read more…

Theme Week Libya – Misrata

24 November 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Misurata Fountain © vedi Fonte/cc-sa-1.0

Misurata Fountain © vedi Fonte/cc-sa-1.0

Misurata is a city in the Misrata District in northwestern Libya, situated 187 km (116 mi) to the east of Tripoli and 825 km (513 mi) west of Benghazi on the Mediterranean coast near Cape Misurata. With a population of about 281,000, Misrata is the third-largest city in Libya, after Tripoli and Benghazi. It is the capital city of the Misurata District and has been called the trade capital of Libya. The harbor is at Qasr Ahmad. The name “Misurata” derives from the Misrata tribe, a section of the larger Berber Hawwara confederacy, whose homeland in Roman and early Arab times was coastal Tripolitania. The location of the city creates a dualism of sea and sand, bounded by the sea to the north and east and to the south by golden sands dotted with palm and olive trees. Like Benghazi and Tripoli, Misurata is divided into two distinct sections. Older Misurata consists of small stone houses and narrow arched streets while the newer part of the city, which began to develop in the 20th century, consists of modern buildings, homes, factories and industrial areas. Aside from its distinct location, which makes it a centre for the exchange of commodities and materials with the rest of the cities of the country, Misrata has modern infrastructure, including paved roads, electricity and communications.   read more…

Theme Week Libya – Kufra oasis group

23 November 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Al Jawf © NASA

Al Jawf © NASA

Kufra is a basin and oasis group in the Kufra District of southeastern Cyrenaica in Libya. At the end of nineteenth century Kufra became the center and holy place of the Senussi order. It also played a minor role in the Western Desert Campaign of World War II. It is located in a particularly isolated area, not only because it is in the middle of the Sahara Desert but also because it is surrounded on three sides by depressions which make it dominate the passage in east-west land traffic across the desert. For the colonial Italians, it was also important as a station on the north-south air route to Italian East Africa. These factors, along with Kufra’s dominance of the southeastern Cyrenaica region of Libya, explains the oasis’s strategic importance and why it was a point of conflict during World War II.   read more…

Theme Week Libya – Benghazi

22 November 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Benghazi Waterfront © Jaw101ie

Benghazi Waterfront © Jaw101ie

Benghazi is the second most populous city in Libya and the largest in Cyrenaica. A port on the Mediterranean Sea in the Kingdom of Libya, Benghazi had joint-capital status alongside Tripoli, possibly because the King and the Senussi royal family were associated with Cyrenaica rather than Tripolitania. The city was also provisional capital of the National Transitional Council. Benghazi continues to hold institutions and organizations normally associated with a national capital city, such as the country’s parliament, national library, and the headquarters of Libyan Airlines, the national airline, and of the National Oil Corporation. This creates a constant atmosphere of rivalry and sensitivities between Benghazi and Tripoli, and between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. The population was 670,797 at the 2006 census.   read more…

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