TUNIS Tunis is the capital of Tunisia and this 'Paris' of North Africa is a metropolis with a long history. In the centre of the medina the domed roof of the souk encircles the Olive Tree Mosque the spiritual centre of the old town. The central market district dates back to the Hafsidic and Early Christian period. Here there's something for everyone, many of the goods being skilfully crafted under the watchful eye of prospective purchasers and while strolling through the markets it's like being part of an Arabian fairy-tale with all the magic of the One Thousand And One Nights. The tall, octagonal minaret of the Sidi Youssef Mosque is an example of Tunisia's earliest Syric building design and opposite is the Dar El Bey, former palace of the Turkish monarchs. Dar Ben Abdallah is a splendid palace that dates back to the 18th century and since 1975 has incorporated a folklore museum that is well worth a visit. A large cool courtyard is dominated by a central marble fountain and surrounded by both residential and official rooms. The lavish lifestyle of the 19th century is on full display in numerous rooms with precious furniture and crystal chandeliers as well as beautifully attired life-size dolls. Today Bardo is an elegant suburb of villas but in the 19th century the Turkish Beys built their palace district within it and the former harem today contains the majestic Bardo Museum. Tunis has all the wonderful atmosphere of this region's historic and colourful past.
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