Historical Sites Near Tunis: Zaghouan, Oudhna, and Thurburbo Majus
Tunisia is full of rich history, and there are a plethora of historical sites near Tunis. Carthage is a must-see historical site in Tunis, and if possible the Bardo Museum is full of must-see artifacts. South of Tunis are three historical sites relatively close to each other, which makes the perfect day trip for those staying in Tunis. The historical sites are Zaghouan, Oudhna, and Thurburbo Majus.
The present-day Zaghouan is a historic town in northeast Tunisia that has been built on the ancient Roman site of Zigus. The city is close to one hour south of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. It is spread over the northern slope of Mount Zaghwan at a height of 1,295 meters above sea level. Zaghouan is home to an important historical site as well as beautiful views of Tunis and the surrounding areas.
Ancient Aqueduct and the Temple of Water
Zaghouan is home to parts of a Roman aqueduct and canal network that is considered to have been built during the rule of Hadrian in the 2nd century BC. These ancient formations were used to carry water over more than 130 kilometers from Zaghouan to Carthage. In Carthage, the water was stored in massive cisterns and eventually distributed throughout the ancient city. The Romans called this source of water the Temple of Water. It was, however, destroyed in the 7th century and rebuilt during the rulings of the Arabs in the 13th century.
This region is well known for its hiking trails that offer some of the best in the country. The trails include the “Water Trail” that begins from the Temple of Water and links Zaghouan with Carthage. Travelers can visit the Zaghouan National Park and urban parkland around the Temple of Water spread over more than 19.000 hectares. The trail also leads to the Djebel Zaghouan which houses rare animals and plants. It attracts those who wish to explore the 25 caves and grottoes.
Modern-day Oudhna (Uthina) is a small Tunisian village thirty kilometers southwest of Tunis and is home to a collection of prominent Roman ruins. Since 1992, the archaeological site went through much excavation, restoration, and development. It is now home to a well-preserved amphitheater, Roman baths, a forum, and houses.
Brief History of Oudhna
The accident city of Oudhna was located on a road that linked Carthage and Thuburbo Majus. In addition, the aqueducts from Zaghouan to Carthage go through Oudhna. Octavian Augustus offered the town and the surrounding farmland to his veteran of the 13th Legion as a reward for their service in the Roman army. The colony thrived from the end of the 1st century to the Severans period.
Sites of Oudhna
Amphitheater: The excavated amphitheater is very impressive. Guests are able to walk down onto the floor of the amphitheater as well as walk through the stands. You can also explore the underground tunnels that the barbarians once waited in.
Baths: There are two different public baths. One is a summer bath and the other is a winter bath. Guests are able to see the different rooms in the public bath as well as different mosaics.
Temple/Forum: This temple is believed to be one of the most important in Africa. This impressive temple had three different rooms dedicated to three other Roman gods. Next to the temple, there is a Roman forum which was the center of Roman politics and culture.
Nearby, there are close to a kilometer of aqueducts still standing by the archaeological site of Oudhna.
The archeological site of Thuburbo Majus is outside of the modern-day village of El Fajas. Thuburbo Majus is relatively close to Oudhna and Zaghouan, and it is a perfect stop on your day trip. The site is home to an impressive collection of Roman ruins.
A Brief History of Thuburbo Majus
Thuburbo Majus dates back to the Punic Empire before Carthage fell. However, most of the city’s construction and development dates to the beginning of the second century. The city grew and in the later part of the second century, was granted the status of a colony. Growth continued into the third century under the reign of the Severans. During the second half of the third century, Thuburbo Majus struggled due to external factors in Rome. In the following centuries, the city recovered from the struggles in the third century, with public work projects restoring the summer and winter baths as well as other sites. Also in the 4th and 5th centuries, there is evidence of the introduction of Christianity and a pagan temple remodeled into a basilica.
Sites of Thuburbo Majus
Capital/Forum: The pillars of the capital tower over the archaeological site. The capital was the center of commerce and culture for the city. Connected to the capital was the forum courtyard. The markets were close by as well.
Baths: At Thuburbo Majus there are two different baths — a summer and a winter bath. Guests can see the different rooms and some of the mosaics on the floor of the baths.
Temples: Thuburbo Majus is home to six different temples. They are each unique in their own way.
Travel Through History with Us
Our private best of 8-day is a great option for travelers looking to explore important historical sites near Tunis as well as across the country. We offer custom tours and we can mix and match sites to fit your travel desires and needs. Our travel experts would love to plan your next travel adventure.