Bare Bones | Essential Carthage
Carthage, the ancient foe of Rome, was once the master of the Western Mediterranean, until Rome conquered it during the Punic Wars, culminating in the flattening of the Phoenician city in 146 BC. Like a phoenix, Carthage arose from the ashes of destruction to become the second largest city in the Roman empire by the end of the first century AD, with a population of 500,000. Carthage, along with the rest of the province of Africa, became the breadbasket of Rome, bringing the region enormous wealth. We see the eerie remains of Punic housing, Tophet, the children’s cemetery. We will also explore the remains of Roman Carthage, including the Antonine Baths and La Malga Cisterns, as well as the amphitheatre, which saw the martyrdom of Saints Felicity and Perpetua.
- Explore the remains of Punic Carthage, including Byrsa Hill and the Salammbo Tophet
- Visit the Bardo Museum, one of the finest collections of mosaics in the world
- A full day exploring the exceptional UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dougga
- Just One Hotel
We arrive in Tunis and settle in to our hotel. Later we enjoy a relaxed evening stroll around the city’s historic centre, for a chance to get to know our guide, group and our surroundings.
After breakfast, our Carthaginian discoveries begin with a ride out to Byrsa Hill, traditionally where Carthage was founded. Though Byrsa was destroyed during the Third Punic War (circa 146 BC), traces of its residential quarter remain for us to explore, together with the neighbouring Carthage Museum, home to collections that include exquisite Punic-era sarcophagi. We break for lunch, then head to the Salammbo Tophet, where children were buried, possibly after being sacrificed for the good of the city. A walk to the harbour and its ancient inner port rounds off this fascinating afternoon.
A real treat for us this morning, as we enjoy a guided tour of the Bardo National Museum. Housed in a sumptuous beylical palace, the Bardo houses one of the best collections of Roman mosaics in the world. We admire famous works of art from the height of the Roman empire, including the Virgil Mosaic and the Odysseus mosaic from Dougga, as well as paleochristian baptismal fonts. The afternoon is yours to explore the wonderful city of Tunis at your own pace. Wander through the historic souk or drink mint tea on the Boulevard Habib Bourguiba.
Today, we explore Roman Carthage and witness the opulence accrued in the Roman period. We start with the Antonine Baths, which were one of the largest bath complexes in the whole of the Roman empire. We move on to explore a collection of Roman villas, where we marvel at some in situ mosaics. In the afternoon, we travel by coach to the amphitheatre and the nearby La Malga Cisterns, which are among the largest and best preserved Roman cisterns in the world, holding approximately 50,000 cubic metres of water.
Prepare for a spectacular day in Dougga, hailed by UNESCO as ‘the best preserved example of an Africo-Roman town in North Africa’. Surrounded by countryside, and thought to have been founded in the 6th century BC by Numidians, Dougga’s ruins are beautifully preserved and brimming with fine details, which – with the aid of your expert guide - bring the ancient settlement to life. Don’t miss the nearly intact theatre and Capitolium, as well as the Licinian Baths and the Libyo-Punic tomb of Ateban, built to honour the Numidian elite in the 3rd-2nd centuries BC.
There are two options for our final morning in Tunis: either spend a few last hours exploring the city unguided before making your way to the airport, or join an optional tour to Thuburbo Maius, a Roman colony and former Punic town, located on the old Roman road than ran from Carthage to the Sahara. The ruins here are both extensive and well-preserved; a stunning spot to mark the end of our tour before continuing to the airport.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - Breakfast only
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
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