Kairouan in Tunisia

Thursday, 6 July 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  5 minutes

Great Mosque - prayer hall © flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0

Great Mosque – prayer hall © flickr.com – Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0

Kairouan, also spelled El Qayrawān or Kairwan, is the capital of the Kairouan Governorate in Tunisia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was founded by the Umayyads around 670, in the period of Caliph Mu’awiya (reigned 661–680); this is when it became an important centre for Sunni Islamic scholarship and Quranic learning, attracting Muslims from various parts of the world. The Mosque of Uqba is situated in the city. In 2014, the city had about 187,000 inhabitants.

The primary economic sectors in Kairouan are industry, agriculture and tourism. The Kairouan region currently has 167 industrial companies offering more than 10,000 jobs, of which 33 are fully exporters. The industrial activities of the region are quite diversified, although the agrifood industry sector is preeminent with 91 units. The governorate of Kairouan is known mainly for the production of vegetables (peppers, tomatoes) and fruits (apricots, almonds and olives). It is the leading national producer of chili peppers with nearly 90,000 tonnes in 2019, as well as apricots with more than 15,000 tonnes. Kairouan is one of the four most visited sites in Tunisia along with Carthage, El Jem and Le Bardo as historic sites. Tourist activity is essentially, if not almost exclusively, a cultural activity focused on the sites and monuments of the city of Kairouan.

© GIRAUD Patrick/cc-by-sa-2.5 Great Mosque - courtyard © flickr.com - benfound/cc-by-2.0 Great Mosque - prayer hall © flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0 Mosque of the Barber © China Crisis/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Orientalist Bab Tunis gate © Orientalist
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Great Mosque - prayer hall © flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0
The city’s main landmark is the Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba (also known as the Great Mosque of Kairouan) which is one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa. Originally built when Kairouan was founded in 670 AD, the mosque currently occupies an area of over 9,000 square metres (97,000 sq ft) and is one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world. The mosque became a center of education both in Islamic thought and in the secular sciences and helped the city to develop and expand.

The Mosque of the Three Gates was founded in 866. Its façade is a notable example of Islamic architecture. It has three arched doorways surmounted by three inscriptions in Kufic script, interspersed with floral and geometrical reliefs and topped by a carved frieze; the first inscription includes the verses 70–71 in the sura 33 of Quran. The small minaret was added during the restoration works held under the Hafsid dynasty. The prayer hall has a nave and two aisles, divided by arched columns, parallel to the qibla wall.

The Mausoleum of Sidi Sahab, generally known as the Mosque of the Barber, is actually a zaouia located inside the city walls. It was built by the Muradid Hammuda Pasha Bey (mausoleum, dome and court) and Murad II Bey (minaret and madrasa). In its present state, the monument dates from the 17th century. The mosque is a veneration place for Abu Zama’ al-Balaui, a companion of the prophet Muhammad, who, according to a legend, had saved for himself three hairs of Muhammad’s beard, hence the edifice’s name. The sepulchre place is accessed from a cloister-like court with richly decorated ceramics and stuccoes.

The Aghlabid basins are a Tunisian historical monument located in Kairouan. Dating from the 9th century and located outside the ramparts of the medina of Kairouan, they are considered to be the most important hydraulic systems in the history of the Muslim world. The structure covers an area of 11,000 square meters and consists of a small settling basin, a large basin for storing water and two drawing tanks, all having a total storage capacity of 68,800 cubic meters.

Read more on TunisiaTourism.info – Kairouan and the High Steppes, Wikivoyage Kairouan and Wikipedia Kairouan (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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