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The National Bardo Museum (Tunis)

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Large Museum in Tunis housing some of the worlds best Roman Mosaics.

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      17.11.2012 10:16
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      Beautiful museum highly recommended to visit.

      The Bardo Museum.

      The Bardo Museum can be found in the City of Tunis and the building forms part of an original 13th century palace. There has been a lot of restoration work going on and was recently reopened with a massive extension to house the collection. It is on the outskirts of Tunis but on main bus routes.

      The museum contains lots of Ancient Greek and Roman relics plus interesting mosaics found at various historical sites around Tunisia. It is said to be the largest mosaic museum in the world.
      The Roman Carthage room contains beautiful mosaics and a sarcophagus in the centre of the room. The room was originally the patio area of the palace with arched like cloisters around the perimeter. It has a ground level and upper balcony that goes all around the room. There are many statues gracing the recesses.

      The Dougga room contains beautiful Mosaics some placed on the walls. These would have originally been on the floor. Imagine walking on such beautiful things you really would not want to do so in case you destroyed them.

      The Christian room.

      This contains mosaics and a few tomb stones and sarcophagi from the Christian era there are Bas reliefs on the wall stretching back to the Punic times.

      The Sousse room.

      This contains a massive Mosaic from the Sahel capital city of Sousse. The room was originally the old hall of the palace.

      The Arab museum.

      This area contains manuscripts of the Koran written on Parchment paper. There are gold coins and cut glass all on display. The whole room is covered in mosaic works and are built in the Islamic style.

      What I found about the museum it is a bit like a maze and on several occasions we got lost and ended up back at the start of the museum. After several attempts to reach the old part of the palace we found it more by luck than by skill. However it was well worth it once we found it. The centre of the palace was based over two floors. There was an upper area which had a balcony all around looking down into the central courtyard. The ceilings were decorated in a very ornate manner.

      We were at the museum for approximately 2 hours which was timed just about right for us although there was a massive security operation going on while we were there because of a visit by the president. The police, military, fire department and an ambulance were on standby which made it feel a bit strange surrounded by so much security. As we finished our visit so too did the president although our paths never crossed and his cavalcade whizzed right past us as we were getting back on our coach. You could almost sense the relief of the security personnel once he had left the grounds of the museum. The atmosphere changed quite significantly to one of cheerfulness.

      Would I recommend a visit to the museum?

      Yes I would although only if you had the time to do so. It was fascinating to see such beautiful mosaics which were fortunately mostly still whole and intact. The museum is like a maze and even with a map of the floor plan we still were able to get lost several times and kept coming back to the main entrance despite thinking we were heading to the old part of the palace in fact it was my fault because I was gawping so much at the baptismal font that we lost the rest of our party never to find them again for about an hour and again it was more by chance than by effort. This is certainly a jewel of a find in Tunis and well worthy of a visit if you are interested in ancient artifacts.

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