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City directory

City directory

EL FOUTOUH DOOR( also called Skifa El Kahla and BAB ZOUILA):

The construction of this monument goes back as far as the 1st years of the 4th Hegira century (303-308 H) (916-921 AD). It was the principal tower of the land rampart. It was also the unique land gate through the Medina.
Bab Zouila (Zouila Door) consists of an 18,50 meter- high tower whose width is 21 m and depth is 12,70 meters. Its 33 meter long and 5, 10 meter wide, roofed gateway leads to the markets.
Since the beginning of the 10th till: the mid 16th century there used to be six iron gates in the passage way.
After the Spanish had destroyed the rampart in 1555, several changes occurred in Bab Zouila. The last alteration was made in 1311 Hegira 1893 AD.

 EL KaemBiAmrEllah Castle:

It was built by UbeidAllah El Mehdi in the beginning of the 10th century for his son, and his successor, El KaemBiAmrEllah. It had been used as a castle by the 2 Zyrite princes before it was destroyed and its stones were used elsewhere. That happened after the Spanish had occupied the town in the mid 16th c. Recent digging in this monument enabled archaeologists to find a 2, 60 m2 mosaic which, undoubtedly, ornamented the castle's biggest room.


It was built as soon as the town was settled in the beginning of the 10th c AD, (the beginning of the 4thc H). It was considered as a private Mosque for the Khalifa and his relatives. Much alteration was done to the mosque especially in the mid 16thc AD when the Spanish turned it into a church and a cemetery for army leaders.
It was rebuilt and renewed in 1962. Only the surface, the outside front wall and the entrance, which resembles the Roman Victory Arch, kept their original size and form. One of the characteristics of the Mosque is that it has no minaret.


The second ship building in the Fatimid Mahdia was set by Moez Lidine Ellah. It enclosed a yard harbour and roofed stores. Ship building in Mahdia had never stopped until the Hafsite Dynasty took over.
It was considered as one of the most important factories together with the ones in Tunis and Bjaya

 The Ancient Harbour:

This port lies in a low land separating two elevations: Sidi Jabeur and the Big Fortress (Bordj El Kbir) on the south eastern coast of Mahdia peninsula.
Therefore, it is out of North Western wind reach.
It is an inlet of deep waters.
Recent research proved this port had been carved in stones. It is as old as the Punic Era but it was used as a larbour for commercial and war vessels till the Ottoman's Era (mid 18thc AD).
The rectangular port where 30 boats can be bollarded has an area of 8250 m2 and an original water depth of more than 10 ms.
There are still parts of the rampart which once surrounded it, and there still are the two towers that watch over its entrance.


It was built in the end of the 16thc AD by the Turkish Ottoman's when they finally settled in Mahdia.
It was probably built on the remains of Ubeid Allah El Mehdi's castle. It was a sort of garrison reserved for the guards.

El Hadj Mustafa Mosque:

This Mosque was built in 1772. Hadj Mustafa had donated all the necessary money to build this mosque. The monument was enlarged and restored many times especially in the 20th c.
It is still considered as one of most important religious monuments existing in Mahdia due to the fact that it includes all the architectural measures that characterized mosques during the Ottoman's Dynasty.


The old Mahdia is certainly one of the foundations on which tourism relies and by which it develops in the region. Besides its folklore, cultural and historical background, the Medina is a typical gateway to tourist sides which attracts most of the visitors. It also plays an important economic role through its commercial activities that contribute in the development of the town.
The variety of monuments that different civilizations had built and left in the Medina incited the municipality to do their utmost to restore them and to take care of them.
The municipality is also protecting the typical traditional design that characterizes architecture in the Medina. The different people from different civilizations once lived here, therefore, there's a variety of architecture that keeps a traditional aspect.
To maintain this image, the municipality is:
• Cooperating with the national institute of culture to agree on building certifications in the Medina.
• Preparing special specifications to restore the old Medina.
• Focusing on the role that the house laboratory plays in constructing quality, in reconstructing and in training constructors who dwell in the town. This is part of the UNESCO international project whose objective is to restore and protect historical towns. It also aims at preserving the traditional aspect and avoiding chaotic building.
• Contributing in keeping a safe environment by cooperating with the Tourist Sites Protection And Management Fund (TSPMF) in paving roads and streets, and setting up decorative and public lamp posts.
• Anyone observing the old Medina will notice the unique way it is built and traced out. It is a peninsula where the houses are agglomerated in the middle in about 45 % of the whole area.
The agglomeration is related to the commercial centre, also known as “Essouk El Arbi”, which lies on almost 35 % of the area. The remaining 20% is the area of the sea cemetery (called sea cemetery because it is surrounded by the sea from 3 sides).

NB: the Whole area of the old Medina is more than 1 km2. Nearly 5500 people live in the agglomeration. Most of them are either fishmen, farmers or clerks (800 fishermen, 1000 clerks…).
The most important occupation in the town is fishing which is related to everyone's daily life and is the unique livelihood to a big number of families.
Regarding the commercial centre, it includes 305 shops, (commercial, professional, and public services).
Look at the table below for more details:


Type of activity
Commercial shops
Professional Shops
Public services


Added to these are 5 institutions (administrative, educational and economic).
Mainly jewelry making and silk weaving are available in 91 shops, which represent nearly 30% of all economic activities.
To animate the Medina more and more, and particularly the commercial centre, the municipality has cooperated with the TSMPF to restore these centers to urge the shop owners to better their shop outside looks, to acquaint people with the traditional architectural feature of the Old Medina: the central Market, the Turkish market for traditional industries, Dar El Hemma (a museum for traditional clothes), the Tourism Union and the Craftsman's House.
Among all these buildings, green parks can be seen: El Kadhi Ennoamane Square, the Ecological Square and Cap Africa are real green places to visit.
What makes the commercial centre a different place is the big number of public and tourist services (cafés, monuments….)
Together with the historical sites of the Fatimid Institution ( The great Mosque, Skifa El Kahla…) other religious monuments such as mosques, Zaouia, Kottab, Qur'an schools and graves of Holy people exist in this area.
The municipality is giving a special care to restore, protect and decorate these graves because they are part of the valuable heritage.