Tozeur, in the south of Tunisia, is considered the largest oasis in Tunisia. It is located a few kilometers from the border with Algeria next to Chott el Jerid and has a vast extension of palm trees that produce the exquisite date Deglet Nourfrom where it is exported to the rest of the world.
It was known as Thusuros during the Roman Empire, when there was a camp here that linked the towns of the interior and Gabès, on the coast.
This town was a flourishing place in the 14th century, becoming the starting and ending point for the caravans that crossed the Sahara.
What to see in Tozeur
Although Tozeur is today a large city, it does not give that impression when arriving at its historic center. Its nerve center is Ibn Chabbat Squarenamed in honor of the architect who designed the water channels for the palm trees of the oasis that allowed the prosperity of the city.
Around this square there are numerous small shops souvenirs typical of Tozeur: capes, rugs, palm leaf baskets and, of course, dates Deglet Nourbeing Tozeur the place where there is a greater variety and where they can be purchased cheaper.
Next to the square, is the mosque the ferdousbuilt with the same pattern of geometric bricks inside the medina, from whose minaret you can see the entire city.
The Medina of Tozeur is located in the neighborhood by Ouled Hadef and it is characteristic for its unique architecture -which can only be seen here and in Nefta- of ocher brick arranged on its facades with geometric compositions.
As for this famous Tozeur brick, there is the possibility of visiting, outside the city, the place where they are made by hand and observing the entire production process.
The labyrinthine layout of its narrow streets and high walls was designed to protect the population that lives inside from the sun, heat and sandstorms. But in addition, it is possible to find small squares, meager passageways, arcades built on the basis of columns and arcades, in a lonely place where the silence is only interrupted by the hubbub of children.
Away from the Medina, are the mosque of sidi muldi and the zoo of Yes Tijaniideal to contemplate some typical desert species such as lions, camels, desert foxes, scorpions, baboons, gazelles and snakes, among others.
You can also visit bled el haderwhere the Great Mosque of the 11th century with Hispanic-Maghreb decoration is located, next to which is the tomb of Ibn Shabbat.
The other attractions of Tozeur
There are two major events and festivals in Tozeur, the first, in March, is the Mountain Oasis Festivalwhich takes place in Tamerza, for sports lovers who come to see the stages of the Rally of Tunisia and the balloons that since discover a unique image of the desert. The other, in November, is the Tozeur Oasis International Festival which brings together concerts, movies, and shows by artists from all over the world.
However, many travelers come to Tozeur attracted more by its surroundings than by the city itself. From here you can visit places like Chott el Djeridthe great salt lake of the South of Tunisia; Mides Canyon (ain karma), the setting for different films, such as “The English Patient” or “Indiana Jones. In search of the lost ark»; the mountain oases Shebika and Tamerza; or the set still preserved from the film starwars, Mos Espathe astroport of tatooine.
The Oasis of Nefta
Before arriving in Tozeur we visit the Oasis of Nefta3 0 kilometers from Tozeur and only 16 from Algeria.
Known as the pearl of jerid it was the old one Nepthe Roman and is known for its thermal springs and its oasis. Nefta is also an important religious center for Sufism and was the seat of a Christian bishopric until the 7th century.
Our objective was the immense palm grove called La Corbeille (the “basket”) that divides the town into two distinct areas that can be clearly seen from the highest point. It is an ecological park that was formerly a crack from which 152 sources flowed to irrigate the palm grove. The springs began to dry up in the 1980s and the place became a desolate place. But little by little the place was rehabilitated and currently has a public pool, river, waterfalls and shelters.
Accommodation and food in Tozeur
Staying and eating in Tozeur was not a dream, but not a nightmare either. We ate near the square Ibn Shabbat in a place brimming with friendliness and, to a lesser extent, good food. Although, as always in this country, everything was very cheap (28 DT – €8.50).
The hotel – Hotel Le Ruisseu-, in front of the Bus Station and in the new part of the city, it was noisy and the rooms were somewhat bare. Of course, the site did not deserve the €40 each room cost.