Today I decided to take a walk around the outside of the Medina. The walk was anything other than short, but it was still far better than dealing with the hassles of the tourist traps in the medina. This was perhaps the best decision I have made in the past three weeks!
Outside, on the south end of the medina, the wall of the town truly gives the feeling of a port stronghold.
Views from Khalif Tower… Currently, the tower and the museum housing numerous Roman and Byzantine mosaics are closed. This is due to the supposed renovations that are taking place in the museum, most of which were set to be completed in December 2009 (so much for that). There was someone sitting out front (who I disturbed from an obviously pleasant slumber) and he was “managing” some of the renovations (sure… sure…). He let me know that the museum was still closed but would be open sometime next year. After talking for a bit about the history and what the museum will have to offer… he decided that he would show me to the top of the Khalif Tower.
The Khalif Tower was built by the Aghlabids in 859 AD on the foundations of earlier Byzantine construction. In the mid 1800s it was converted into a lighthouse. This tower/lighthouse can be seen from nearly any part in the medina… for obvious reasons. The museum itself will be amazing once it is FINALLY open… since it will house some amazing mosaics from the Romans and Byzantines.
When we came back down the tower I noticed (what I thought at first to be fake) some mosaics lying about. After asking him some questions about them he told me they were owned by the museum and that these were Byzantine mosaics (according to him – I was unable to ask him to cite his sources). He then pointed towards a large glass window and inside was an amazing looking mosaic that was being cleaned. I asked if we could go inside, but he didn’t have a key (yeah… the “manager”). I would have taken pictures, but the glass was extremely dirty and they would not have turned out. So instead, here at the pics from the Byzantine collections lying outside…