Kairouan is one of the holy cities of Islam. Its Great Mosque is also considered an architectural masterpiece, which has influenced the style of other mosques in the Maghreb.
It has been said that seven pilgrimages to the Great Mosque of Kairouan is considered the equivalent of one pilgrimage to Mecca. Today, many consider the city as the fourth holiest in Islam.
Kairouan was founded in ca. 670 as a post in the Arab conquest of the west. Its heyday came with the Aghlabid dynasty that ruled between 800 and 909. The Aghlabids built the great mosque and established in it a university that was a centre of education both in Islamic thought and in the secular sciences. Other notable monuments of that period include the Mosque of the Threed Doors and the Basin of the Aghlabids.
Since it is practically impossible for Westerners to visit the holy sites of Islam in Saudi Arabia, Kairouan is the closest most people can get to an introduction to the history of one of the world's major religions. Kairouan is easy to visit from the tourist regions of the coast and certainly makes for a worthwhile trip, if only to see the really impressive Great Mosque.
Kairouan is the fourth holiest city in Islam, (although I have just done a little research and this may be a tad controversial!) and it is said that travelling there 7 times is the equivalent of travelling to Mecca. The most impressive site is the great Mosque with its powerful if austere minaret and columns taken from Carthage! Also impressive is the facade of the Mosque of Three Doors! Near the medina entrance is the mosque containing the well that the city was founded around which is supposedly linked to the Zamzam well in Mecca and is a site of Pilgrimage, I found it a bit odd as there was a blinkered camel turning the well in a very small space, but there are some amusing pictures of the camel going up and down the stairs that reach the site.
Kairouan is easy to get to from Sousse, either by bus or Louagge which I would recommend more as on the bus we got picked up by a tout for one of Kairouan's many famous Carpet shops before we even arrived, and it is best to get picked up by one outside the great Mosque as their views are much better, and they will tell you their carpets are better too!!!
Share your experiences!
Have you been to Kairouan? Click here to add your own review.
Full name: Kairouan
1988 - InscribedReasons for inscription
The site has 21 connections. Show all
- Cisterns Aghlabid Cisters are inclused in Zone III of the inscription
- Hypostyle The Great Mosque "is one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world, as well as a model for all later mosques in the Maghreb. (It) is one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa, its perimeter is almost equal to 405 metres (1,328 feet). This vast space contains a hypostyle prayer hall" See
- Mausolea Sidi Abid Masoleum
- Notable minarets The massive minaret of the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia is the oldest standing minaret. Its construction began during the first third of the 8th century and was completed in 836 CE (wiki)
- Sundial Inside the mosque
- Walled cities
- Irrigation and drainage Bassins des Aghlabides
Religion and Belief
- Built in the 9th century The Great Mosque was rebuilt in the 9th century
- Indiana Jones movie Indiana Jones and the lost Ark - as Cairo
- Located in a Former Capital Kairouan - capital of Aghlabid Kingdom
- Moved from location of original construction Great Mosque of Kairouan has columns from Carthage
- Used in film as another WHS Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (as Cairo)
WHS on Other Lists
- Aga Khan Award for Architecture Kairouan Conservation Programme (Kairouan, Tunisia) (1992)
World Heritage Process
- Minor modifications after inscription 2010 - buffer zone