Days after visiting the historic site of ancient Carthage, we are on our way to visit the Bardo Museum, world famous for its extensive collection of mosaics - in fact, it houses the largest such collection. Finding a taxi from near the medina turns out harder than we expected; the driver takes a longer route to avoid the worst Tunisian traffic jams. When we finally enter the spacious museum, we immediately feel at ease. The museum was world news on March 18, 2015 when IS attacked it, took visitors hostage, and killed 22. The tragic event is commemorated in the entrance hall with a plaque and the flags of those who died in the attack. We start exploring the museum, and within minutes, are thrilled with the abundance of mosaics on display here. Furthermore, we are happy that taking pictures is fine here.
We are surprised to be allowed to walk over mosaics, and giving us a sensation and closer connection to the stone art under our feet. Many mosaics, also larger ones, are on display on the walls. We move from one hall to the next, and are spoilt by stunning mosaics, mostly from Roman times. They have been recovered from Carthage, Hadrumetum (present-day Sousse), Dougga, and Utica. Some are enormous, and surprisingly intact. Others have some parts missing, which are in some mosaics completed by paintings. We see gods and goddesses riding horses, we see sea creatures, we see a huge zodiac, we see hunting scenes, and so much more. While in some, it is obvious they are made of small stones, other mosaics are so well done, they appear like paintings.
Apart from the rich collection of mosaics, we also explore the halls with mostly Roman statues, where we see gods and goddesses hewn out of marble. We make sure to see the Punic Hall, with treasuries found from the Punic era. Then, there are the objects salvaged from the shipwreck of Mahdia, many badly damaged by the influence of the sea. There is a Byzantine baptismal font, there are stelae, there are several sections with Islamic art (like the Blue Koran of Kairouan), and well, there is so much more. Apart from its collection, the Bardo Museum itself is worth a closer look: it is housed in the palace of the Bey since 1888. It has splendid ceilings and impressive halls, a fitting setting for the treasure it holds. While it is renowned for its amazing collection of mosaics, the Bardo Museum gives a full overview of the rich history of Tunisia in many different ways.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Bardo National Museum (Tunisia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Bardo National Museum. Read more about this site.