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1. The famous great mosque

2. World's oldest minaret

3. Minaret details

4. Prayer hall

5. Mosque details

6. Gates and exterior

7. Cemetary of Ouled Farhane

8. Zaouia Sidi el Ghariani

9. Bi'r Barouta

10. Mosque of the three doors

11. City wall and gates

12. Zaouia of Sidi Sahab

13. Zaouia of Sidi Amor Abbada

14. Aghlabid pools

15. Around town

16. Shopping streets

17. At night


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The holy city
Kairouan, Tunisia

Kairouan, Tunisia

Kairouan is defined as the holiest city of Tunisia, being the oldest Islamic settlement, having the oldest mosque in North Africa and the world's oldest minaret.
But there is more to the story: In 670, the general of the invading Arab forces, Oqba bin Nafi, found a golden cup in the sands here, a golden cup that he had lost in the holy well of Zamzam in Mecca a few years earlier. When picking the cup up, water sprang from the ground. This is said to be source of the Bi'r Barouta, Kairouan's most popular attraction among Muslim.
Among the very first projects of the conquering Arabs was to built a great mosque. A city grew quickly up, and around 800, Kairouan became the capital of the Aghlabid dynasty. This would last a little bit more than a century, before the Fatimids made Mahdia their capital.
The city was for a long time characterized by not being much touched by the French, who wanted to respect the sentiment of the Tunisians. For a long time the whole city was kept inside the city walls, and no Ville Nouvelle was ever constructed.
Judging by its name, many visitors to Kairouan wonder if the place is named after Cairo of Egypt. The answer is no. When Kairouan was founded, there was no place called Cairo. Moreover, "Cairo" is a bad transliteration from the Arabic name "Qahira", while Kairouan is a fairly correct transliteration of the Arabic "Qayrawan".
Kairouan is a great tourist destination, being the best place in Tunisia to learn about the country's Islamic history. In addition to the Great Mosque there are a number of smaller, still very interesting and attractive, religious institutions open to non-Muslims too.
Kairouan, Tunisia

By Tore Kjeilen