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Shady narrow streets, Sfax

Sfax (Arabic: صفاقس‎, Safaqis, or /sfa:qs/ in Tunisian Arabic, whence the French name) is a city in Tunisia, located 270 km (168 miles) southeast of Tunis. The city, founded in AD 849 on the ruins of Taparura and Thaenae, is the capital of the Sfax governorate, and a Mediterranean port on the Gulf of Gabes. Sfax has population of 340,000 (2005), and is an industrial center for processing phosphates. The city is often described as Tunisia's Second city, because only Tunis has more inhabitants.

Unusually, the streets of the Medina are mainly laid out on a rectangular plan, presumably inherited from the Roman town.
Rue Mongi Slim runs through the Medina from south to north. In Rue de la Driba, which goes off on the right, are a number of houses with handsome and imposing doorways; and in a side street opening off it on the left is the interesting Folk Museum.

The medina even got special quarters for old trades like locally-made jewellery and iron products.
Even better, the place is really friendly. Sfaxians are said to feel above the needs of alluring foreign visitors, but that doesn't mean that they are unfriendly. On the contrary, Sfax medina is a place where people show genuine hospitality to its guests.

The medina is of such a nice quality that it has been used as a location for international movies, like The English Patient.

History

By the end of the 10th century Sfax had become an independent city state. The city was conquered by Roger of Sicily in 1148 and occupied until it was liberated in 1156 by local forces, and was briefly occupied by European forces again, this time by the Spanish, in the 16th century. Sfax became an integral base of the Barbary piracy, prompting an unsuccessful invasion by Venice in 1785. In the late 19th century Sfax and the rest of Tunisia were conquered by France and incorporated into the French empire. During World War II, the Axis powers used the city as a major base until they were defeated by British forces. After World War II, Tunisia was returned to France only to gain independence in 1956. (Source: patrimoinedetunisie.com & wikipedia)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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