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Slow living in Mahdia, a Tunisian coastal town with old-world charm

Cradled by the Mediterranean Sea, the seaside town of Mahdia invites you to slow down and enjoy the simple moments. Stroll between the little white houses, have a coffee in the old town, let yourself be overwhelmed by the beauty of a marine cemetery… A very intimate experience to discover Tunisia in a different way.

History of a Mediterranean treasure

The town of Mahdia, with its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, stands out on Tunisia’s east coast. A captivating landscape, set against the blue of the water, revealing a rich heritage dating back to the 10th century. It was during this period that the Fatimids founded Mahdia. It served as the capital of this Islamic dynasty, whose reign extended across North Africa. The atmosphere of a once fortified maritime city remains from this period.


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Bordj al-Kabir fort, built in the 16th century by the Ottoman military garrison, stands on the site of a former Fatimid palace. A spectacular building, erected on the highest point of the peninsula. A few minutes’ walk away, small hills dotted with white tombs come into view. This is Mahdia’s marine cemetery. A peaceful place, where life and death intermingle, between visits to the deceased, the daily life of fishermen and children bathing.

Culture and crafts with multiple influences

In Mahdia, the Mediterranean Sea seems to watch over its inhabitants. As a backdrop, the inhabitants dive into the sea from the rocks and the wooden boats sail with the wind. Traditional fishing is one of the town’s main activities.

But the locals can also pride themselves on their handicrafts. At the crossroads of Arab, Berber and Mediterranean influences, Mahdia is renowned for its weavers’ workshops, silver jewellery and wedding costumes richly decorated with gold and silver threads.


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Vibrant gastronomy, from fish to street food

It’s impossible to go to Mahdia without going for the fish! If you’re a keen cook, you’ll find fresh fish, just brought in from the fish market, in one of the markets behind Place du Caire. Otherwise, head to the Lido. This restaurant has become an institution! Families and sailors flock here to sample the best fish in town, as well as the region’s speciality: couscous from the sea. Delicious! When it comes to street food, Mahdia is no match for the big capitals. It’s famous for its chapati: a calzone-like patty filled with tuna, cheese and a dash of harissa!

See also

48 hours in Sidi Bou Saïd (& Carthage)

Published on 6 November 2023