Carthage is a great city of antiquity on the north coast of Africa, now a residential suburb of the city of Tunis, Tunisia. According to tradition, Carthage was founded by the Phoenicians of Tyre in 814 BCE and its Phoenician name means “new town.”
The archaeological site of Carthage was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979. Today, this wealthy suburb of Tunis has villas surrounded by gardens full of red hibiscus blossom and purple bougainvillea.
Though Roman Carthage was destroyed, much of its remains can be traced, including the outline of many fortifications and an aqueduct. The former Byrsa area was adorned with a large temple dedicated to Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva, and near it stood a temple to Asclepius.
Also on the Byrsa site stood an open-air portico, from which the finest Roman sculptures at Carthage have survived. Additional remains of the Roman town include an Odeum, another theatre constructed by Hadrian, an amphitheatre modelled on the Roman Colosseum, numerous baths and temples, and a circus.
The scanty remains of once mighty Carthage lie scattered across the neighbourhood. But despite their ruinous state the remnants are still worth a sightseeing trip for their beautiful setting backed by the sea.
The Tophet is a religious sanctuary where people worshipped the sun god Baal-Ammon. Excavations here have revealed that during the early days of the city, it was common practise to sacrifice first born children here to make sure the city found favour with the gods.
Baths of Antoninus Pius
Baths of Antoninus Pius is arguably the most important remains of Roman Carthage. The baths were the largest in the Roman world outside Rome, occupying an area of 1.8 ha.
The Archaeological Park, which lie between Avenue Habib Bourguiba and the sea, is another important remains. This is where the rectangular grid of streets clearly shows the layout of Roman Carthage’s residential quarter.
Musée National de Carthage
This is the National Archaeological Museum located within the park and has a very interesting collection of material. The museum gardens are an attraction also worth visiting. Amid the greenery are a variety of ancient remains and a 3 m high marble statue commemorating Louis IX.
The Quarter Magon excavation site is in a small park near the Archaeological Park, and is useful to visit to feel an impression of the development of the town in Punic times. There is a small museum with models of the Punic town walls, houses and streets, pavement mosaics of the Punic period and a model of the ancient quarries at El Haouaria.
The old Punic harbour lies along Rue Hannibal with two basins in which the mightiest fleet in the Mediterranean once laid at anchor. According to the ancient sources, the commercial harbour was in the shape of a rectangle, linked with the sea by a channel.