Like most Medinas, the section with shops or “souks” is bustling with activity, the residential area is much quieter and makes up 90% of the Medina, the remaining 10% is made up of shops. Historically, a Medina was surrounded by a wall, but the Tunis one no longer has walls around it. The Tunis Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
Within the Tunis Medina you will find palaces, mosques, libraries, historic buildings…and lots of cats. The souk part of the Medina is divided into areas for leather, clothing, pastries, breads, essential oils, herbs, lamps, metal items, carpets, olives, fruits and vegetables, etc. If you can’t find it in the Medina, you probably don’t need it!
One of the most distinctive features of the residential section of the Medina are the decorative doors, painted different colours, with various designs created by the use of black metal studs. The designs created by the metal studs tell the story of the people who live behind them. Blue and yellow seem to be popular colours in Tunis, but there are other colours used as well. Many have a door knocker in the shape of the “Hand of Fatima”, a symbol used to protect against the evil eye. The layout of the interior of the house has a distinct pattern with a central courtyard and rooms going off from this central core. I love wandering through the Medina!