if you’re a fan of Greco-Roman antiquity or, in general, the heritage of the civilizations that called the Mediterranean Ocean home, it’s definitely worth a visit to Tunis just to see this museum and just soak in all the history. housed in an old palace that has been renovated and modernized extensively, you can spend at least half a day or more here, preferably with a guide. i felt like i missed out on a lot of the history behind the pieces, even though there are detailed (perhaps overly technical) overview plaques for each room. nevertheless, i was completely enchanted.
[see yesterday’s post on riding the Tunis Metro] take Metro line 4 to the Bardo stop. it’s a good 20-30 minutes from downtown, and you’ll know it’s the stop because the train goes underground for a short S-curve before reaching Bardo. once it goes underground, that’s your sign to get ready to get off the train. (note that on the way back it will go underground twice before reaching downtown.) leave the train to the left. at the end of the station, turn right and you will see the tip of the museum across several streets. follow the building clockwise until you come to the main entrance (there’s a big driveway).
it costs 11 dinars for admission + 1 dinar for a photo permit (although i suspect no one checks for the photo permit, pay the dinar). the museum is open 9:30 to 4:30 except from June to August (or May to September, depending on source) when it’s open half an hour earlier and later. note it’s closed Mondays. there is supposedly a cafe there but i didn’t see it (it was an empty spot).
OH SO MANY MOSAICS. i was in heaven! i felt bad even walking on them, but you have to! other highlights include some great rooms from the days when the museum was a palace. again, if you love ancient history, this is your place. i live for this stuff, so i was basically dancing with joy inside as i went from room to room, completely wide-eyed. (as you can tell from the title of the post, this really has become one of my favorite museums in the whoooole world.)
i made a photosphere you can check out, too.
the terror attack
on March 18, 2015 (about three weeks ago from today), three terrorists (either from ISIS/ISIL or an Al Qaeda splinter cell, depending in who you believe) killed over 20 people in a shooting rampage and hostage situation at the museum. this was the deadliest terrorist attack in Tunisian history. the museum is currently surrounded by barbed wire and under heavy police guard, and the flower tributes are still sitting outside. inside, there is a stairwell in one corner that still contains visual reminders of the attack. i wasn’t expecting to see anything so stark, and it really affected me. i had to leave the museum shortly after (luckily this was towards the end of my visit anyways) as i was getting very overwhelmed with emotion. for several hours afterwards (and even now) my heart was so heavy i wanted to cry.
i should add that at no time (there or in Tunis in general) did i feel in danger or unwelcome. i’m not quite sure why they left this stairwell and room open to the public (it’s completely unnecessary), but it was a very powerful reminder of what happened and, i think in hindsight, i’m glad in some sense that i was able to witness it.
je suis bardo.