Africa

Excursion to El-Jem and Mahdia

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Staying in the most pija area of ​​the entire Tunisian coast has its drawbacks. For example, you can run into some unscrupulous taxi driver who goes after the money. That morning, the taxi driver who took us to the station louage de Soussa decided to give us a nice tour passing through all the suburbs of the city so that the taximeter's bill finally rose to 8.5 dinars, almost double what it costs if you go on the shortest path. Even so, these things do not affect the morale of the good traveler and we get to El-jem Eager to have fun.

El-Jem is located one hour from Soussa and is famous for having the third largest amphitheater in the Roman world. At the time of Caesar, the ancient Thysdrus was a small commercial town, but in two centuries it rivaled Hadrumete (Soussa) for being the second most important city after Carthage. The wealth of the city came thanks to olive plantations and the sale of olive oil.

Between the wealth contributed by the olive oil and the megalomania of the proconsul of Ifriqiya (Africa) Gordiano, in Thysdrus the amphitheater, capable of housing more than 30,000 spectators. The amphitheater was erected between 230 and 238 A.D. and consisted of three steps that reached 30 meters high. Today, they are totally destroyed and only a rebuilt part remains to host music festivals, but it is worth climbing to the top of the stands to see a good view of the amphitheater, which still retains the grandeur of yesteryear, and then down to the lower aisles where beasts were kept. In fact, this place has served as a setting for filming movies such as Gladiator and sports brand ads.

Being such a rich area, many surrounding villages flourished. From that time of splendor we have a great sample in the archaeological museum. With the same entrance of the amphitheater you have access to the museum that houses the mosaics of almost thirty villas discovered around El-Jem. After visiting the amphitheater, it is advisable to approach the museum because it contains incredible and very well preserved mosaics.

However, the splendor of Thysdrus came to an end when Gordian decided to organize a rebellion and proclaim himself emperor. This arrogance came out very expensive, because the rebellion was quickly crushed by Emperor Maximus.

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