Kairouan: Jewel of Arab-Muslim Civilization – UNESCO World Heritage Site – Explore the Beauty of Kairouan: Discover our Products

Kairouan: Jewel of Arab-Muslim Civilization – UNESCO World Heritage Site – Explore the Beauty of Kairouan: Discover our Products

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UNESCO

Founded in 670, the city of Kairouan flourished under the Aghlabid dynasty, in the 9the century. Despite the transfer of the political capital to Tunis in the 12the century, Kairouan remained the first holy city in the Maghreb. Its rich architectural heritage includes the Great Mosque, with its marble and porphyry columns, and the Trois-Portes mosque which dates from the 9the century.

Location in the center of Tunisia, in a plain equidistant from the sea and the mountains, Kairouan is the oldest Arab-Muslim base in the Maghreb (670 AD) and one of its main holy cities. Capital of Ifriqiya for five centuries, it was a place of exceptional diffusion of Arab-Muslim civilization. Kairouan bears unique witness to the first centuries of this civilization and its architectural and urban development. The inscribed site is a serial property which includes the medina and its suburbs, the Aghlabid basins and the zawiya of Sidi Sahib. The medina (54 ha) and its suburbs (20 ha) form an urban ensemble presenting all the components of an Arab-Muslim city. The medina includes juxtaposed dwellings divided into neighborhoods separated by narrow, winding streets; it is surrounded by ramparts extending for more than three kilometers. The layout of the suburbs is more rectilinear and the houses have a more rural appearance. The medina is home to remarkable monuments, including the Great Mosque, an architectural masterpiece which served as a model for several other mosques in the Maghreb, and the Three Doors Mosque which represents the oldest sculpted facade in Muslim art. The Aghlabid Basins, an open-air reservoir made up of two interconnecting cisterns dating from the 9th century, constitute one of the most beautiful hydraulic complexes designed to supply water to the city. The zawiya of Sidi Sahib houses the remains of Muhammad's companion, Abu Zama El-Balawi.

Criterion (i): The Great Mosque, rebuilt in the 9th century, is not only one of the main monuments of Islam, but also a universal architectural masterpiece. The numerous but small changes that have been made have not altered the layout of this place of prayer, which forms a quadrilateral measuring 135 m by 80 m. At its southern end is a hypostyle prayer hall with 17 naves supported by a “forest” of marble and porphyry columns. To the north is a vast paved courtyard lined with porticoes, interrupted in the middle of the smaller north end by the massive three-story square minaret.

Criterion (ii): The Great Mosque served as a model for several North African mosques, particularly for its decorative motifs, which are unique. Additionally, the Three Gates Mosque, built in 866 AD, is the oldest known Islamic mosque with a carved facade.

Criterion (iii): With the Great Mosque, the Mosque of the Three Doors and the Aghlabid Basin, without forgetting the numerous archaeological remains, Kairouan bears exceptional witness to the civilization of the first centuries of the Hegira in Ifrîqiya.

Criterion (v): Protected by its ramparts and gates (Bab et Tounes, Bab el Khoukha, Bab ech Chouhada), the medina of Kairouan, whose panorama is punctuated by the minarets and domes of its mosques and zawiyas, has preserved its network of winding streets and courtyard houses. Very few small arched windows or doorways are cut into the exterior walls, but the interior walls have larger openings overlooking the central courtyard. This traditional architecture, which has become vulnerable under the impact of socio-economic changes, constitutes a precious heritage which must be protected in its entirety.

Criterion (vi): Kairouan is one of the holy cities and spiritual capitals of Islam. Next to the Great Mosque, the first place of worship founded in the Maghreb only 38 years after the death of the Prophet, is the zawiya of Sidi Sahâb where the remains of Abu Djama, one of Mohammed's companions, are kept. It is not surprising that in the past, seven pilgrimages to Kairouan could replace the pilgrimage to Mecca prescribed for all Muslims.

Integrity (2009)

The historical ensemble of Kairouan, with its central part and its suburbs, has preserved, without alteration, its urban fabric with its morphology and its architectural and architectonic components. All these elements testify to the universal value of the property and contribute to its integrity.

Authenticity (2009)

Some homes have been completely renovated, but most of the urban fabric, particularly the monuments, has been preserved. Adaptation to new lifestyles and socio-economic demands as well as restoration works carried out over time have not affected the intrinsic functional and structural authenticity. However, some houses have been rebuilt using modern materials.

In addition to the thirty-six monuments benefiting from a specific classification as historic monuments, the historic ensemble of Kairouan is protected by Law 35-1994 concerning

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