Photographer's Note

In Sfax's gate

Bab Diwan, Kasbah, Sfax

Avenue Hedi Chaker in Sfax runs north to the main gateway of the Medina, Bab Diwan, built in 1306. The walls, originally built in mud brick by the Aghlabids in the ninth century, were later strongly fortified. The Kasbah at the southwest corner was built in the 17th century; the fortifications at the east end date from the 12th century.

In short, a Kasbah is an official fortified residence, often defended by armed guards. It can be the dwelling of a sovereign (for example the Tunis Kasbah, not much of which has survived) or that of the representative of authority in a province. By extension, the word has come to designate the quarter adjoining the building.
In fact, all North African towns have their Kasbah. Their use spread in the XIIth century under the Almohad dynasty established in present day Morocco. In time, they were integrated into larger defensive works comprising fortifications and ramparts. This is the case, particularly, of the Sfax Kasbah that today is a monument flanked by two towers and an artillery bastion dating to the XVIth century and is located in the continuity of the city walls.
The Kasbah was painstakingly restored and has now recovered its original majesty.


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.


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: & 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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