The Great Mosque at Kairouan
Situated in the city of Kairouan, which itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find the awe-inspiring Great Mosque of Kairouan. This is widely known as one of the most significant mosques in the whole of Tunisia, and covers a huge area measuring 9,000 square metres.
Also known as Sidi Oqba Mosque, the world-famous Great Mosque of Kairouan is a huge structure featuring typically austere Aghlabid design. Everyone is welcome to take a tour around the expansive grounds and courtyard, and it’s a great opportunity to learn all about its fascinating history, which stretches all the way back to 863AD. The city of Kairouan itself has existed since 670AD, when it was established by some of the first Muslim Arabs to arrive in North Africa. Today, this place is the fourth most holy city for the Muslim faith, and an important pilgrimage destination.
It’s worth noting, though, that non-Muslims aren’t allowed into the prayer hall at the Great Mosque of Kairouan, but you’re still welcome to admire the breath-taking exterior architecture. The doors are also left wide open, so you can see the interior for yourself. Take a look at the 17 aisles, supported by 414 ancient columns, and a host of geometric and floral motifs carved in fine marble.
The Great Mosque of Kairouan is surrounded by the city’s Medina, along with many small stores. If you want to see this amazing building from a different angle then the rooftops of these shops have some of the best views, and if you buy something from them, you may be invited by to see them for yourself; or if not, it’s definitely worth asking if you can take a look.
There’s no train to Kairouan, but you can easily take a bus or louage from major cities and towns. If you have an interest in culture, it’s well worth the trip to see the Great Mosque of Kairouan.