Travel to Mahdia – The City of Chilling and Relaxation
Located south of Monastir, the coastal resort and port of Mahdia is one of Tunisia’s newest tourist towns which has been expanding rapidly since the creation of a tourist zone 5 kilometres west of the town center, and where the finest beaches can be found. Mahdia is traditionally a place where travellers can chill and relax free of commercialisation and enjoy a beach holiday just watching the world go by. The city offers its visitors a wide range of restaurants, cafés and hotels.
Mahdia is a Tunisian coastal city south of Monastir and southeast of Sousse. It is is also the provincial centre north of Sfax and the capital of Mahdia Governorate. The city was founded in 912 by the first Fatimid Caliph Ubayd Allah who claimed to be a Mahdi, hence the name Mahdia. In 921, Mahdia became the capital of Fatimid Tunisia. The reason it was chosen to be the capital is its proximity to the sea, and the promontory on which an important military settlement had been since the time of the Phoenicians. In 1087 the town was attacked by raiding ships from Genoa and Pisa. The Zirid dynasty had its residence here in the 11th century, but was brought to an end by the Norman conquest of the city in 1148. In 1160 the city came under Almohad rule. The role of the capital was taken over by Tunis in the 13th century during the Hafsid Dynasty. Some buildings still exist from the 10th and 11th centuries, such as the Great Mosque and the Casbah, which have helped make the city an important tourist attraction.
Among Mahdia attractions, there are the Black Passage, or Skifa el-Kahla in Arabic, that was once the only entrance to the town; the Place du Caire, the town square where travellers can enjoy a coffee; the Great Mosque with its monumental entrance that is believed to have been inspired by Roman triumphal arche and that dates back to the Fatimids; Mahdia’s Acheaological Museum with its well-presented examples from the Punic, Roman, Christian and Islamic periods; the big fortress “Borj El-Kebir” that dates back to 1595; Mahdia Punic Ruins; the Fatimid Port; and the Cap d’Afrique.
A visit to the Medina is also worthwhile, where besides haggling for leatherware, silverware and carpets, travellers can discover the impressive fortifications that surround the old town.
For activities, visitors to Mahdia can enjoy water sports organized by the town’s hotels besides a good riding stable in the grounds of Hotel Cap Mahdia. A new diving school is also operational. Travellers can also enjoy freshly caught fish in the working port at one of the town restaurants. From Mahdia, travellers can make connections by train to Sousse, Monastir and Tunis. Close by is the amphitheatre of El Djem and further south Tunisia’s second city Sfax.
At night, travellers can take in the colourful procession of fishing boats carrying lanterns.