Gafsa

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Travel to Gafsa – Beautiful Historic Town

Gafsa is located in south-western Tunisia near the Chott el Jerid, lying on an upland oasis. The town is the largest in the region. Travellers to Gafsa will enjoy its climate that is characterised by warm days and cool nights. The city offers its visitors some interesting historic sites dating from the Romans as well as a splendid oasis with 100,000 palm trees and a wide variety of other plants.

Located 369 kilometres southeast of Tunis, Gafsa is the capital city of Gafsa Governorate.

Gafsa has been an important urban centre since at least 10,000 BCE. The culture of the city, called Capsian, would have been central in the dissemination of cultural elements to all of North Africa.

The Numidian town Capsa was conquered by the Romans in 107 BCE, where most of the inhabitants were killed. By 540 CE, Capsa was renamed Justiniana and fortified by Byzantine lords. In 668, Justiniana was conquered by Uqba Bin Nefi. It is said that he took 80,000 prisoners. The inhabitants converted to Islam but the Latin language survived at least until the 12th century. By 1556, the town was conquered by the pirate, Dragut.

In 1943, the walls of Gafsa were destroyed by an explosion in the ammunition store of the Allied forces. 1980 January 27 is the date of the Gafsa Incident, where 300 Tunisian exiles coming from Libya, occupied the town in an attempt to inspire the people of Tunisia to fight against the ruling government and because of alleged dissatisfaction in the region 48 people were killed in battles and 13 of the rebels were hanged later that spring.

For attractions, visitors to Gafsa have many. Among them are the Grand Mosque dating from the 14th century with its payer hall that has antique columns, blue title decoration, and a beautifully carved pulpit; the 13th century Gafsa Kasbah, built by the Hafsids on the foundations of a Byzantine fortress; the Historical Museum that displays Roman mosaics; Dar Loungo, an exquisite 18th century Tunisian home with an inner courtyard with several grand apartments and a beautiful terrace that shows off a spectacular view of the city; the bustling Tuesday Market; the Roman Pools fed by thermal springs; the old Turkish Dar El Bey Palace with arcading borne on columns with antique capitals; the Mida Hill from where travellers can have a great view on the town and the oasis; the ONAT (Organisation Nationale des Arts Tunisiens) a crafts center and marketplace that displays decorative arts and Sidi Ahmed Zerrouk, a little oasis with thermal baths.

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