AIA Tours: land

Tunisia: Phoenicians to Romans, Mosaics to Mosques

Tour Dates: October 17-27, 2019 (sold out) in the planning stages for 2020 (11 days)

Tour Leader(s): Nejib ben Lazreg ,

The 2019 departure for this tour is sold out. Our 2020 departure is in the planning stages, to add your name to the waiting list or to receive advance notice when the 2020 tour has been finalized, call 800-748-6262 or email aia@studytours.org.

This fascinating itinerary features all seven of Tunisia’s cultural UNESCO World Heritage sites, including fabled Carthage, with its museum’s unparalleled collection of Punic artifacts; Dougga’s splendid 3,500-seat theater and temples; Kairouan’s Great Mosque; and El Djem’s marvelous 30,000-seat ancient amphitheater. Other highlights include the leadership of our distinguished Tunisian archaeologist and visits to Bulla Regia’s underground Roman villas, Temple of Apollo, and 4th-century theater; Thuburbo Majus’s Forum, Temple of Mercury, and sunken winter baths; and the Bardo Museum’s renowned exhibits of ancient mosaics.

Seize the opportunity to also visit the cultural treasures of Malta on our optional, 4-day extension featuring the megalithic temples at Tarxien, Hagar Qim, Mnajdra, and Ggantija; Hal Saflieni Hypogeum; and the splendid medieval cities of Valletta and Mdina.
Maximum of just 12 travelers!


Main Tour Pricing: (9 nights)
$5,295 (11-12 participants) per person double occupancy
$5,895 (9-10 participants) per person double occupancy
$6,195 (6-8 participants) per person double occupancy
*$875 single supplement (limited availability)

Optional Post Tour Extension to Malta (3 nights)
$2,190 (11-12 participants) per person double occupancy
$2,490 (8-10 participants) per person double occupancy
*$255 single supplement (limited availability)

Flight from Tunis to Malta is not included and is estimated to cost $200.
*Single room supplement will be charged when requested or required.

With fewer than 6 participants on the main tour and/or 8 participants on the Malta extension, a small group surcharge may be added.

The Great Mosque at Kairouan, founded in A.D. 670. © Marek Szarejko

Bulla Regia theater arcades © Pradigue

The Arch of Alexander Severus at Dougga © Bernard Gagnon

Mosaic detail on display at the Bardo Museum © R. Todd Nielsen

AIA study leader Nejib ben Lazreg and travelers at Bulla Regia © Jane Waldbaum

Thuburbo Majus © Patrick Giraud

El Djem Amphitheater © Agnieszka Wolska

Extension to Malta - Map

Hal Saflieni, Malta © A Pace

Ggantija, Malta © Hamelin de Guettelet

Itinerary


Thursday, October 17, 2019: Depart home
Friday, October 18: Arrive Tunis, Tunisia |  Welcome dinner
Saturday, October 19: Carthage | Bardo Museum | Sidi Bou Said | Tunis
Sunday, October 20: Cape Bon Region | Tunis
Monday, October 21: Tunis walking tour | Oudna | Tunis
Tuesday, October 22: Bulla Regia | Tabarka
Wednesday, October 23: Dougga | Kairouan
Thursday, October 24: Kairouan walking tour | El Djem | Sousse
Friday, October 25: Sousse walking tour | Lamta | Sousse
Saturday, October 26: Thuburbo Majus | Zaghouan | Tunis | Farewell dinner
Sunday, October 27: Fly home OR Begin Malta extension

 

The Mysteries of Malta Optional Post-Tour Extension
October 27 – 30, 2019 (4 days)

Sunday, October 27, 2019: Depart Tunis | Arrive Malta | Mdina walking tour | Sliema | Welcome dinner
Monday, October 28: Hal Saflieni Hypogeum | Tarxien | Hagar Qim | Mnajdra | Valletta city tour | Sliema
Tuesday, October 29: Gozo | Sliema | Farewell dinner
Wednesday, October 30: Depart Malta | Arrive USA

View Detailed Itinerary

Thursday, October 17, 2019: Depart home
Friday, October 18: Arrive Tunis, Tunisia |  Welcome dinner
Arrive today at Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN), where you will be met and transferred to our hotel near the seashore. Enjoy a welcome dinner at our hotel this evening. Overnight at the 5-star Golden Tulip Carthage Tunis hotel for four nights. (D)
Saturday, October 19: Carthage | Bardo Museum | Sidi Bou Said | Tunis
This morning we visit the world famous Bardo Museum, whose earliest exhibits (Punic) date to the 7th century B.C., and whose most exquisite exhibits (Roman and Byzantine) are mosaics from sites all over Tunisia, many virtually intact. After lunch we explore the vast site of Carthage, founded in 814 B.C. by the Phoenicians and sacked by the Romans in 146 B.C. It was not until the 1st century A.D. that Rome rebuilt the city, and within a few years it expanded and prospered to the point where it was second only to Rome. Our visit will include the tophets, Punic ports, Antonine Baths, Byrsa Hill, cisterns, and the Carthage museum, which houses an unparalleled collection of Punic artifacts. Continue on to the cliff top village of Sidi Bou Said, whose gleaming houses and stunning location above the Gulf of Tunis make for a wonderful stroll through its maze of lanes and alleys. The village has attracted generations of European artists and writers, and is often called a “living museum.” Dinner is at our hotel in Tunis this evening. (B,L,D)
Sunday, October 20: Cape Bon Region | Tunis
Set out early this morning for Cape Bon, a fertile agricultural region that was developed by the French as the heart of Tunisia’s wine industry. As we travel the Cape, we will have opportunities for scenic stops, such as at the Punic city of Kerkouane and in Nabeul, at the southern base of the peninsula, where there is a small but interesting archaeological museum. Late this afternoon we return to Tunis, where the balance of the day is at leisure. Restaurant suggestions for dinner will be provided, as there are many enjoyable dining options. (B,L)
Monday, October 21: Tunis walking tour | Oudna | Tunis
Take an in-depth walking tour of the medina of Tunis, the historic heart of the city, including a visit to the 7th-century Zitouna Mosque. After lunch we drive to Oudna (Roman Uthina), one of Tunisia’s more recently excavated sites that is still a work in progress. See the fine amphitheater and nearly a dozen villas with many mosaics, cisterns, and storage areas. We return to Tunis and have dinner at our hotel this evening. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, October 22: Bulla Regia | Tabarka
Depart Tunis, driving northwest along both scenic back roads and main roads. This area remains relatively undeveloped, with beautiful rural scenery and fertile farmland. Make a visit to Bulla Regia, an unusual and very well preserved site that features underground Roman villas; a Temple of Apollo, the oldest extant structure on the site; a 4th-century theater; and an excellent museum. Arriving in the seaside town of Tabarka, we check in to our beautifully-located hotel and gather for dinner this evening. Overnight at the 5-star La Cigale Tabarka Hôtel. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, October 23: Dougga | Kairouan
This morning we drive along scenic country roads to Dougga (ancient Thugga), Tunisia’s most extensive archaeological site. Covering some 60 acres on a steep slope some 2,000 feet above the plain, Dougga was known as the “city of temples.” Visit the theater, which accommodates almost 3,500 people; the Temple of Saturn, under which was found evidence of a pre-Roman sanctuary dedicated to the Carthaginian god Baal; the Temples of Augustan Piety and Mercury; and the grandest structure—the Capitol that was dedicated to the gods Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, and to the glory of co-emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. Continue on to Kairouan, where we check in to our hotel and have dinner. Overnight at the 5-star Hôtel La Kasbah. (B,L,D)
Thursday, October 24: Kairouan walking tour | El Djem | Sousse
Kairouan’s location along the old caravan routes provided a base for a flourishing crafts industry, which lives on today in its rugs and textiles. Today we walk through the heart of the city’s medina, past sellers of carpets, leather goods, brass works, and spices to the Great Mosque, which has been rebuilt several times since its original construction in the 7th century. Set out on a drive to El Djem, one of the most extraordinary sites in Tunisia thanks to the marvelous, 3rd-century A.D. amphitheater in the heart of the town. Nearby is the museum of El Djem, which houses some lovely mosaics and the remains of some recently-excavated luxury villas. Continue on to the seaside city of Sousse, Tunisia’s third largest city, where we have dinner. Overnight at the 5-star Mövenpick Resort & Marine Spa for two nights. (B,L,D)
Friday, October 25: Sousse walking tour | Lamta | Sousse
Visit the historic heart of Sousse, long a thriving trading center and major port. Visit the Great Mosque, originally constructed in A.D. 850; walk through the souk, dominated by woolworkers; and continue on to the Kasbah, constructed around the 9th century. Continue south to Lamta, which was the Roman port city Leptis Minor. Even though Lamta is not open to the public, our group has this special opportunity to visit the site and learn about important discoveries made here under the direction of our AIA study leader, archaeologist Nejib ben Lazreg. Return to Sousse, where we have the balance of the day at leisure. Dining suggestions will be provided. (B,L)
Saturday, October 26: Thuburbo Majus | Zaghouan | Tunis | Farewell dinner
Travel inland to the vast, sprawling site of Thuburbo Majus, one of Tunisia’s best-preserved sites. It was occupied by the Berbers, Phoenicians, and (in 27 B.C.) the Romans. Its imperial remains are typical of a Roman city and include the towering, 2nd-century A.D. Capitol and Forum. En route to Tunis, stop at Zaghouan (ancient Ziqua), with its monumental, 2nd-century A.D. fountain (nymphaeum), whose mountain springs were an important water source for Roman Carthage. We arrive in Tunis mid-afternoon, and have some free time to re-visit the medina, a short walk from our hotel, or pursue other interests. Gather this evening for a farewell dinner in a wonderful setting. Overnight at the 5-star El Mouradi Hôtel Africa Tunis (or similar). (B,L,D)
Sunday, October 27: Fly home OR Begin Malta extension
Transfer this morning to Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN) for flights homeward or onward to Malta, for those on the post-tour extension. (B)


The Mysteries of Malta Optional Post-Tour Extension
October 27 – 30, 2019 (4 days)

Sunday, October 27, 2019: Depart Tunis | Arrive Malta | Mdina walking tour | Sliema | Welcome dinner
From Tunis, take a 50-minute flight to Malta, where we will be met at the International Airport (MLA). Begin our exploration of the island with a walking tour of Malta’s old capital, Mdina, including the exterior of the Cathedral whose imposing bastions provide a panoramic view of most of the island; and visit the 1st-century B.C. Roman Villa, featuring fine floor mosaics. Continue along the narrow, winding roads to St. Paul’s Catacombs, which date to the 4th and 5th centuries. In the late afternoon, drive to the seaside town of Sliema, where our hotel is located within a short walk of cafés, shops, and the seaside. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner of Maltese cuisine. Overnight at the 4-star Victoria Hotel for three nights. (D)
Monday, October 28: Hal Saflieni Hypogeum | Tarxien | Hagar Qim | Mnajdra | Valletta city tour | Sliema
For this morning’s excursion we will be joined by special guest Dr. Nicholas Vella, a noted Maltese archaeologist from the University of Malta. Begin the morning with a visit (permission pending) to the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Hypogeum (“underground” in Greek) is a subterranean structure dating from 3600-2500 B.C. that is the only known underground, prehistoric temple in the world. (Only 80 visitors are allowed per day, by advance arrangement.) Drive to the southern portion of the island to visit the intriguing megalithic temples at Tarxien, dating from 3600-2500 B.C., which are renowned for their detailed carvings; plus the temples at Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, overlooking the sea. Bid farewell to Dr. Vella and continue on to the capital city of Valletta. After lunch at leisure, enjoy a guided tour of the city, including St. John’s Co-Cathedral, featuring impressive Baroque architecture and precious works of art, and the Grand Master’s Palace. Return to Sliema and gather for dinner at our hotel. (B,D)
Tuesday, October 29: Gozo | Sliema | Farewell dinner
Set out early today to visit Malta’s sister island of Gozo, barely 20 minutes from the mainland by ferry. Visit the Ggantija megalithic complex, dating from about 3600 to 3200 B.C., which is among the oldest and best preserved temples in the world. Continue on to Ta’ Pinu Church, Xlendi Bay, and Victoria’s Citadella, which presents the opportunity to visit the Gozo Museum of Archaeology, the Folklore Museum, and the Old Prison. Gather for a farewell dinner in Sliema this evening. (B,D)
Wednesday, October 30: Depart Malta | Arrive USA
Transfer this morning to the International Airport (MLA) for flights homeward. (B)


For reservations or questions, please email us at aia@studytours.org (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884).

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