Dougga

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Dougga holds the remains of a UNESCO World Heritage listed Roman town, near Teboursouk, in the north-west of Tunisia. It also has several other monuments dating from pre-Roman times. Plan to spend about 2 hours here, and if you have a car, couple it with trips to surrounding areas (ask the security guard at the ticket office for recommendations).

Capitol of Dougga.

Understand[edit]

Extensive ruins of a Roman town set on a hilltop, overlooking surrounding valleys with olive plantations. The road to Dougga passes through beautiful rural and scenic landscape. Unlike Roman ruins in Carthage or even in European towns where one or two remaining monuments are isolated in the middle of a modern city, at Dougga, the entire town is preserved, even the Roman streets. Without the barriers and the flocks of tourists, one can take one's time to climb in and out of houses and tunnels, temples and the theatres.

As with other sites in Tunis, Dougga's history is not limited to only the Roman period. One finds an old Punic temple here with a cleansing bath and walls from the Phoenician period, which was later transformed and reused by the Romans, and thus has Roman pillars. There is also an obvious funerary monument, the Mausoleum of Ateban, dating to 2nd century BC, one of three examples of royal Numidian architecture. Its inscription is housed in the British Museum, and the Punic-Libyan bilingual inscription was used to translate Libyan script.

Mausoleum of Ateban

Definitely worth the visit!

Get in[edit]

Get a bus (at least two hours) or louage (80 minutes) to Teboursouk (pronouned Tebsook) from Bab Saadoune louage/bus station (Gare de Routiere Nord) in Tunis. A taxi will take you the short distance to Dougga and then pick you up again at a pre-arranged time. Louage drivers often ring ahead to alert the taxi that a tourist is arriving. It's very convenient and quick but 15-20TD for only a short distance. If you can't manage to get the price down, remember that Dougga is a memorable place to visit and well worth the money. As at July 2016 there was only one, extremely busy, taxi in Teboursouk that also served as the local bus, so arguing with the driver over the price was pointless. You could also go as part of an organised tour from Tunis.

If driving, clear sign posts pointing to the Ruins of Dougga can be followed from Tebersouk.

Entry is only TD7 plus 1 for photography.

Get around[edit]

Sturdy footwear is recommended as the paths are, for the most part, cobbled and can be reasonably steep in places. You will almost certainly be clambering over the ruins.

See[edit][add listing]

There are lots of buildings still partially standing. There are also few restrictions as to where you can walk. The following is a suggested route to visit.

Map of main area
  • Theatre. Built in 168 or 169 CE, is one of the best preserved examples in Roman Africa. It could seat 3500 spectators, and is the first thing one sees on entering the site. From here continue on to the capitol, which has great monolithic columns that cannot be missed.  edit
  • Roads. On the main roads (the broad road to Carthage for example), one can see cut outs for horses not to slip, and holes in the remaining door ways to tie the horses to. Under the roads are the Roman sewers - various stones on the main road can be lifted up to let the water out in times of flooding.
    Access to sewers
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  • Mosque. Tiny building with Roman columns in the interior to the left of the capitol when coming from the theatre.  edit
  • Marketplace. Note the cutouts in the doorways for the doors.  edit
  • Square of the Rose of the Winds. Look out for the markings on the floor with the 12 winds - the winds bringing rain from the north.  edit
  • The Capitol. . A Roman temple from the 2nd century CE, principally dedicated to Rome’s protective triad: Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Juno Regina et Minerva Augusta. Located next to the marketplace and the forum.  edit
  • Forum. Note the statue with the images of four gods on two sides.  edit
  • The arch of Alexander Septimius. Can be seen from far as it is well preserved. On the road towards Theveste, in Algeria (300km).
    Alexandre Septimius's arch
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  • The temple of Caelaestis. A little way off, through a grove of olive trees, and there is a sign pointing the way. It is dedicated to Juno Caelestis, the successor of the Punic god Tanit. Its well-preserved temenos is demarcated by a Phoenician wall, a large section of which has been very well preserved. The interior has Roman columns.
    Temple of Caelaestis
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  • Dar Lacheb. Back on the main road to Carthage is a sanctuary, a temple, a gymnasium? A perfectly preserved door in any case! Two stretches of grass on the inside of this area.
    Dar Lachheb's door
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  • Antonian Baths. From here we can see the baths. Three rooms - for hot, warm and cold baths. In the center of the city area and was used in winter. Two other baths exist, one outside the city center for the summer. Pass through the tunnels where the slaves used to heat the water to get to the three baths. From the room for rest with the metal grids on the floor and the mosaics, climb up the steep steps to get back to the Capitol.
    View of the Capitol from Antonian baths
    * Brothel. Facing the valley, somewhat halfway between Dar Lacheb and the Mausoleum of Ateban is the brothel - many small chambers around a main court. You can get to it by passing through the smaller theatre that is just below the area towards the valley, upon exiting the steps.  edit  edit
     edit
  • Mausoleum of Ateban. As explained above.  edit
  • Septimius Severus's arch. From the brothel, continue back towards the main exit and you'll reach the arch of Septimius Severus - two stumps left, but majestic. On the road that leads towards Carthage (120km).
    Septimius Severus's arch
     edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Take lots of photographs, wander amongst the olive groves, sit and take in the majesty of the place.

As of July 2016, an old gentleman serves as a guide in Dougga. His prices are TD20 per hour - an hour suffices to see most of the sites, even at his slow walking pace. He has lived in Dougga since his youth, serving as a guide for a long time. He is able to give the tour in Arab, French, English, or German. Well worth the price, on which he wasn't willing to budge, as there are absolutely almost no signposts around the area and it would have been a waste to visit the extensive ruins without understanding what they were, and he is knowledgeable (this page has been updated with his explanations, though, so might not be strictly necessary to go with him, cross checked to include only those on the Wikipedia page).

Buy[edit][add listing]

No facilities on site. Don't be surprised if a local farmer/shepherd tries to sell you Roman 'artifacts'.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Small shady area with tables where you can buy cold drinks, snacks, postcards (all at inflated prices) and use the well-maintained toilets.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Make sure you have a supply of water to walk around but you can buy it, and other drinks, on site. If buying from the local town make sure you get it from a reputable shop - street vendors have been known to refill empty bottled water containers with the local tap variety.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

One hotel in the town a few miles away. Visit either from Tunis or El Kef.

Get out[edit]

Use a return taxi trip ( see above ) because there will almost certainly be no taxis waiting to pick up passengers leaving Dougga (as it is in the middle of nowhere), or visit as part of an organized trip.

As of July 2016, the security guard selling tickets offered to do a trip to the surrounding area. Did not take up his offer due to time constraints but it could be an option - price is probably negotiable.

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