The ruins of Carthage (Arabic: قرطاج, Qarṭāj) are in Tunisia, 15 km north of Tunis.
The Byrsa Hill at the rear of the area dominates both the ocean gulf and the lake and plain of Tunis inland to the west, and is therefore the most strategic point.
Today the district is very affluent, with elite schools, wealthy residents, relatively numerous police, a large number of archaeological sites and museums and the President's own seaside residence.
- — only useful for the American Cemetery
- — for the Basilica of Saint Cyprien, or a walk past the President's palace
- — most destinations including Antonine Baths, Roman Theatre and the hill-top Carthage Museum/Acropolium/Carthage Archaeological Park complex
- — Oceanographic Museum, Punic Tophet and it's nearby hotel
Mostly it's best to walk. However, the area is large and sightseeing is sweaty work on a hot day.
By taxiIf you are tired, you may wish to get a cab between some of the major tourist spots. This should be cheaper in low season.
For example, 10 DT (December 2010) from the museum down to the Amphitheatre, including 10 minutes of the driver waiting around, a trip to the Water Cisterns, a further 5 minutes of the driver waiting around, and a trip down to Tophet.
CarthageLots and lots of ruins! The president's palace. Sweeping views of Tunis and the gulf.
You can buy a ticket for 10 DT (Nov 2018) that allows access to about 10 different historic sites, which are a big challenge to see in one day. Only some sites have extensive English signage - many, such as the museum, do not. Some are not open, and most signposts pointing to where they are are sketchy at best.
The most impressive sights (with better preserved ruins) are Antonin Baths and Byrsa Hill near the Carthage Museum. Amphitheater, Hill of the Odeon, and Water Cisterns are much smaller but still interesting.
Antonin BathsRuins of the largest Roman baths outside Rome itself. The site also has a Punic cemetery, some old houses, some Punic kilns, a chapel, some graves, and mosaics. Guides are available in a number of languages, and may be worthwhile as the site is large. It is illegal to take photographs in the direction of the presidential palace. Doing so, especially when traveling alone, may land you in jail for up to 3 years, though the guards don't appear too concerned.
Carthage MuseumMost remnants excavated from the ruins have been stored in the cavernous museum located on Byrsa Hill, documenting both the Punic and the Roman eras. Signs within the museum are entirely in Arabic and French. On the second floor, the part nearer to the staircases showcase artifacts from Roman times, and the inner part the artifacts of the earlier Punic period. Fascinating artifacts such as alabaster jars and jewelry remain. The descriptions of the Roman conquest and the legend of Dixon are also vivid, but sadly, inaccesible to English speakers. The museum grounds offer sweeping views of the coast and city, and also include the ruins of some Punic streets, the former site of a public library, numerous sculptures, a chapel or church, some excellent mosaics and some coffins. A few benches under the trees with a great view make for a good resting spot. Unfortunately many items about the grounds are unlabelled, so a guide may be useful (or eavesdrop on a tour group if you can). Ignore the shifty guy trying to charge you 1 DT to use the toilet. As of Nov 2018 visitors are allowed to access museum grounds only, while museum building is closed for reconstruction.
AcropoliumSt Louis Cathedral forms one edge of the museum, but does not appear to be open - it was completed in 1890.
Water CisternsA very large series of water cisterns which functioned as a water redistribution point at the terminus of a long (90 km?) aqueduct from the hills to the south. The remnants of the end of the aqueduct are still standing. Also offers reasonable views of the city.
AmphitheaterAn eviscerated Roman amphitheatre constructed in the first century CE, ringed by forested, rolling hills. Interesting for a quick stroll, but it is unlabelled in any language. May therefore be more interesting with an enthusiastic guide. Worth a look. The adjacent forest may be a nice spot for a picnic.
Basilica of Saint-Cyprien
Hill of the Odeon and park of the Roman villas
Circus of CarthageA Roman circus used for chariot racing, it was modeled on the Circus Maximus in Rome and other circus buildings throughout the Roman Empire. Measuring more than 470 m in length and 30 m in width, it could house up to 45,000 spectators. Not much left of it nowadays though.
World War II North Africa American Cemetery and MemorialThe cemetery is the final resting place for 2,841 American military Dead lost during the War in North Africa. A monument is inscribed with the names of 3,724 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. The memorial court contains large maps in mosaic and ceramic depicting operations across Africa.
phone: +216 71 730420address: 28, rue du 2 mars SalammbôBuilt in 1924 under President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on the site of the Carthaginian war harbour. Collection of stuffed birds and animals, several aquariums, skeletons of fossil fishes.
- International Festival of Carthage in the summer is a treat with big name dancers, singers, and artists from all over the world for a very reasonable price (10.5 DT). Plastic chairs are not worth the price (26 DT) unless you are really aching for back-support. Most people bring cushions or blankets for the amphitheatre seats. Plan a late night out with concerts normally ending after 1AM.
Carthage-Byrsa and Carthage-Salammbo Area
- There is a restaurant-hotel with a relatively expensive but good selection (including wines) near the Punic Tophet on Rue de Hannibal south of the southerly Carthage-Byrsa station, east of Carthage-Salammbo. It's not far from the Oceanographic Museum
- North of Carthage-Byrsa, two local sandwich shops can provide cheap eats and coffee.
- On the main road Route La Goulette between Carthage-Byrsa and Carthage-Salammbo stations, there is a restaurant that offers a range of salads, meat dishes, sandwiches, and pizza.
phone: +216 71 733 433address: Byrsa, CarthageMediterranean cuisine and classy interior design. Great views of all of the city and the bay.
Antonin Baths cafeA small cafe on the the Antonin Baths premises. Hot/cold drinks and some snacks.
Sale sucreA tiny patisserie. Drinks can be acquired opposite at the gas station.
- The hotel/restaurant on Rue de Hannibal, just south-west of the Punic Tophet, offers a wine selection, though all are Tunisian and overpriced. Beers also appear to be available.
Villa DidonThis pricey hotel/spa offers food near the Carthage Museum. It features a stylish lounge and terrace with delightful views. Very pleasant for an evening beer or glass of wine, though apparently closed during off season.