Marabout in Front of Bourguiba Mausoleum
Monastir is a beautiful seaside city with an old Ribat built to watch for invading Byzantium galleys. The massive stone walls and tower of the ancient fortress along the waterfront provides us a step back in time. We enjoyed a few hours walking around the fort and the seawall and then took the small hike up into the town to visit the Mausoleum Bourguiba with its park-like grounds and picturesque Arabic cemetery. From the cemetery we found a stunning view of the Ribat and the full moon rising out of the ocean behind it.
The Marabout is the tomb of the first president of Tunisia after they regained their independence. Built in 1963, it has become a popular local destination and can be quite crowded on a Saturday afternoon when the weather is nice. It was this type of atmosphere we found with families picnicking, children chasing balloons, and older folks sitting back and gossiping among themselves. We found a seat on a stone bench and settled in with a small snack for some good people watching, one of our favorite ways to spend some extra time.
We soon sparked up a conversation with a small family nearby. They had come out to the grounds to enjoy the weather and the beautiful sights, much as we had. There were two women, both sisters, and their children. They had laid out a spread of baguettes, harissa, olives, yogurt, honey, tomatoes, and tuna that looked fit for a sultan. We politely turned down their offers of food but realized quickly to continue to do so would be unfriendly so we were soon nibbling at the different offerings. We’d had harissa before, but this was homemade and set the mouth on fire!
We enjoyed the rest of the day in pleasant conversation learning about life in Monastir while enjoying the various treats of the picnic and playing with the children. As the sun set and cast its golden glow across the city we realized we had, once again, spent way more time here than we had planned.