Travel to Nefta – Hot Springs and Mosques Aplenty
Nefta is an oasis town in central-western Tunisia, 23 kilometres west of Tozeur. Thanks to its dry climate, its cube-shaped and flat-roofed mud houses, as well as its splendid historic sites, Nefta is one of the best tourist destinations in Southern Tunisia. At the northern end of this lovely oasis lies the principal spring with gently running waters and a breathtaking view of the oasis.
The history of Nefta reaches far back into the past. It is believed to have been settled originally by sheperds who came from the kingdom of Napata. The Romans and later the Byzantines built forts in the oasis to provide protection against raids by desert nomads. In Byzantine times, Nefta and Tozeur were Episcopal Sees. In the middle of the 7th century, Nefta was conquered by the Arabs and in subsequent centuries, the town prospered as an important staging-point for caravans. Its decline began in the 15th century as a result of more frequent raids by nomadic tribes and the general falling off in the caravan trade. With the coming of the French in 1881, however, it took a fresh lease on life.
Nefta is considered as the spiritual home of Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. There are 24 mosques in the old quarters and more than 100 zawiyas (shrines).
For attractions, visitors to Nefta can go to the Ouled Ech Cherif village for some of the best preserved traditional houses in the town; the Corbeille, a 30-metres deep depression which runs through the city, dividing it. The basin also contains a hot spring which offers bathing pools; the Dar Houidi ,a typical wealthy Tunisian home that has been converted into a private museum; the Domes of El Bayadha, the most revered religious buildings in Nefta mainly zawiyas, tombs for sacred men, and mosques; the Marabout of Sidi Bou Ali, the tomb of a Moroccan holy man with a beautifully decorated burial chamber and prayer hall; the Zawiyya of Sidi Brahim (Sidi Kadria), the tomb of an important Sufi scholar. The Zawiya is one of the most important Sufi sites; and the Great Mosque of Sidi Salem.
For activities, visitors to Nefta can enjoy riding camels at the small Berber encampment and sandhills about 15 kilometres out of town towards the nearby Algerian borders.
- Discover the spiritual side of Tunisia.
- Visit the dramatic Corbeille, a gully cutting Nefta in two parts.
- Witness a unique brick architecture.