Monastir is a stunning touristic city in Tunisia. Tunisia is an underrated tourist destination in the Mediterranean and it boasts a rich history going back as far as Carthage and some of the Mediterranean Sea's most stunning beaches. Monastir is located on the central coast of Tunisia around 20 kilometers or 12 miles south of the more popular coastal city of Sousse.

In addition to Tunisia, visit the world-famous Morrocan city of Marrakesh and go on a multi-day tour around the Sahara and UNESCO attractions - complete with camel rides.

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About Monastir

Monastir is rightly considered one of Tunisia's top tourist destinations with its ancient architecture and monuments and its blissful strips of sandy shore.

  • Meaning: Monastir Is From Greek μοναστήριον Meaning "hermit's cell, monastery"
  • Population: Over 90,000

Monastir is built on a peninsula jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea with the sea surrounding it on three sides. It has both sandy and rocky beaches in addition to a cliff that stretches for almost 6 kilometers. Monastir was founded on the old ruins of the Punic-Roman city of Ruspina.

  • Ancient Name: The Roman Name Of The City Was Ruspina

Monastir became famous in the 1970s when the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth was filmed there. Additionally, the outrageously funny Monty Python's Life of Brian was also filmed there with its memorable quotes like "He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!" and "Oh! It's blessed are the meek! I'm glad they're getting something, they had a hell of a time..."

  • Filming Location: Monty Python's Life Of Brian Was Filmed Here

Many of the Middle East and Jerusalem-based movies have been filmed in the ancient Moroccan site of Aït Benhaddou (even though neither of these sites looks remotely like Jerusalem and other places in the Middle East).

Despite its small size, Monastir has an international airport - Habib Bourguiba International Airport and it has flights from most Western European countries.

  • Visa: Tunisia is Visa Free For Western Passport Holders

Monastir is a great destination for Europeans fleeing the cold and damp winters. It enjoys a dry Mediterranean climate with hot summers and extremely mild winters. It has a lot of sunshine and low rainfall all year long. It is situated in the transitional zone of the Sahara called the Sahel Zone.

  • Climate: Dry Mediterranean
  • Winters: Every Mild

Around a third of the population is occupied in the tourist sector and the city's luxury hotels by the sea and golf courses attract many foreign tourists.

Related: Everything Travelers Should See In Fes, The Cultural Capital Of Morocco

The Ribat of Monastir And Other Attractions

Today it still has the well preserved Ribat of Monastir. "Ribat" is an Arabic term for a small fortification that was built along the frontier of North Africa. These were built during the first years of the Muslim conquest of North Africa from the embattled Byzantine Empire. They were built to house military volunteers (called murabitun). Later on, the forts served to protect commercial routes and as centers for isolated Muslim communities.

The Ribat of Monastir was used to scan the sea for enemy ships and to protect it from any attack by the Byzantine fleet.

  • Ribat: An Early Islamic Fort In North Africa

The Ribat of Monastir is one of the oldest Islamic structures in the region and is the oldest ribat built by the Arab conquerors during the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb. It is easily the town's most famous monument.

  • Built: In 796 By Harthama ibn A'yan (Expanded In 966)

The ribat has two mosques and an imposing gateway on the west side leads into the inner courtyards.

  • Attractions: Everything From Ancient Ruins To Nightclubs

In addition to the Ribat, other old attractions here include the great mosque, the Bourguiba mosque, museums, the Mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba (named after the founder of the modern Tunisian Republic), the souk (Arabic word for a traditional Arabic market), and the Kiriates islands. Other more modern attractions include nightclubs, a racecourse, diving centers, and two golf courses.

Related: What You Should Know About Visiting Marrakesh And Why Its Worth It

Guided Tour of Monastir

For those looking for a private tour of Monastir then one of the best ways is with a local guide. The Cultural Monastir Walking tour explores much of the old city including the market (souk), a Costume Museum, the Habib Bourguiba mosque, and Habib Bourguiba mausoleum, and more. One will discover the secret of the Medina of Monastir and learn all about the Ribat of Monastir.

  • Duration: 2 Hours (Approx)
  • Language: English And Three Other Languages
  • Cost: From $352
  • Includes: Certified Guide

Tunisia may not be as famous as Morocco, but that doesn't mean it is any less rewarding. Tunisia has a rich history that predates the Roman Empire and spans the Islamic period.

Next: A Travel Guide To Morocco: Tourists Should Plan Their Trip Around These 10 Things