During the 14th century, Tunis was a city that flourished with art, scholars, and religion. There were beautiful mosques in Tunis that were built under the Hafsids, which reigned from 1229 to 1574. The city was one of the largest ports in the Maghrib lands, and during the 14th century it was the most important port for trading with Europeans and sub-Saharans because it was a middle ground for the two areas [1].

The capital of Tunisia, located nearly 1,500 miles from Tangier, Ibn Battuta reached Tunis in a sad state. He had been traveling for a few months by the time he reached Tunis, and he did not know anyone besides the people that were traveling with him. In his Rihla, he recalls his feelings of entering the city with no one to greet him, “I felt so sad at heart on account of my loneliness that I could not restrain the tears that started to my eyes and wept bitterly” [2]. Not only does this show the distance and time it took to travel before modern technology, but it also shows the seriousness of leaving one’s entire family behind to travel. He goes on to say that a pilgrim showed him hospitality in the area because he noticed that Ibn Battuta was depressed from his loneliness, and this kindness made his trip easier [3].

Today, Tunis still remains an important city in the region. It is home to all of the governmental buildings in Tunisia, and it is the largest city in the country. Recently, the people of Tunis, and all of Tunisia, rose up against the government to overthrow the President that had been in power for decades. It was the beginning of the “Arab Spring” with the first major eradication of a dictator.



[1] Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Tunisia,” accessed August 1, 2012, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/609229/Tunisia.

[2] Macintosh-Smith, Tim. The Travels of Ibn Battutah. London: Picador, 2003.

[3] Macintosh-Smith, Tim. The Travels of Ibn Battutah. London: Picador, 2003.