Situated in the heart of Tunisia, the capital city of Tunis is a metrópolis that straddles between the past and present. From the city’s old medina to the suburbs of Carthage, colonial architecture and traditional Arabic edifices are on full display. In the new town, or Ville Nouvelle, modern skyscrapers run along the grand Avenue Habib Bourguiba – a stark contrast to the historical quarters. As the capital city of the country, Tunis is the country’s political and administrative hub.
Past vs Present
While the city’s new town is rapidly expanding due to modernization, the country and its people continue to hold on tight to its past. One of these people include Albert Memmi, a distinguished Tunisian author who has written numerous titles on life in Tunis during its days as a French colony. His first novel, The Pillar of Salt, published in 1953, was particularly recognized.
Born in 1920 into a poor Jewish family living in the Jewish ghetto of Tunis, Memmi wrote about his childhood, growing up in a whirling world of contrasts and the effect of these contrasts on the protagonist who subsequentlys flee the realities. Memmi writes with a searing honesty of his struggle to attain a sense of identity. This quote from his book is a great descrption of how he feels, “I’m a Jew! My home is in the ghetto, my legal status is native African. I come from an Oriental background. I’m poor’. But I had learnt to reject these four classifications.”
In addition to all the problems he grew up with, Memmi plunges the reader deep into the chaos and tragedy of World War Two and the effects of the German presence on the Jewish community in Tunisia. In the concluding chapters of The Pillar of Salt , he describes the hardships endured in the German labor camp and the final escape back to Tunis.
The Present Tunisia
Luckily, Tunisia has come a long way since those days. Having gained independence in 1956, Tunisia has since developed into a safe and historically-rich country. Besides the intriguing capital city of Tunis, there is also a whole world to explore around the country: from the fascinating island of Djerba to the beaches of Hammamet and the Star-Wars-inspired Tozeur. Wherever you choose to go in Tunisia, you’ll be surprised to find a country extremely rich in history and culture.
Whether you’re looking for an adventure vacation or a relaxing break, Tunisia has enough history and diverse natural beauty for everyone. If you want to visit this amazing country book your room at one of the Iberostar Hotels!