The new digital and social media to discover Arabia and the Middle East. Offbeat. Innovative.

Mediterranean charm meets history: Explore Santorini’s twin in Tunisia, Sidi Bou Said

Discover the charming streets and picturesque architecture of Sidi Bou Said, a city that looks eerily similar to Santorini. 

Sidi Bou Said is a hidden gem of Tunisia’s rich heritage. As you stroll through the winding cobbled streets and take in the distinctive blue-and-white architecture, you may be struck by a sense of déjà vu – the city bears a striking resemblance to the Greek island of Santorini!

 

 

Voir cette publication sur Instagram

 

Une publication partagée par KAWA News (@kawa_news)

A city that attracted celebrities

To truly grasp the beauty of Sidi Bou said, let’s take a journey through its history. It was founded in the 12th century by a local Sufi saint, Abu Said ibn Khalaf Yahya, who was revered for his piety and wisdom. Over time, the city attracted different people from numerous areas, such as the Andalusians and Ottomans, which led to its growth in size and population. It also attracted Western thinkers and artists like Chateaubriand, Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault and painter Paul Klee, who was so captivated by Sidi Bou Said’s beauty upon his arrival that he said: “Colour has taken possession of me. No longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever”.

 

Sidi Bou Said, a city with an iconic architecture

Nowadays, its awe-inspiring blue-and-white architecture is what genuinely defines the city. According to Tunisian architecture specialist Ashraf Azzouz, this style was first introduced by the French painter and musicologist Rodolphe Baron d’Erlanger, who built his residence in Sidi Bou Said in this style. The municipality later issued a decree to protect the village, imposing the blue-and-white colours of its buildings and forbidding any unchecked construction. As you explore the city, you’ll find this blue-and-white theme consistent throughout, giving it a cohesive and harmonious feel. Combined with the city’s pre-existing Mediterranean architecture, it gives Sidi Bou Said a striking resemblance to the Greek island of Santorini