On this day in 1957, Tunisians came together to abolish the monarchy that only lasted a total of one year. In celebration of Tunisia the Scoop team gathered together a collection of unique facts you might not have heard of:
1. Tunisia’s Kairouan is dubbed the 4th holiest Islamic city
Cities like Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem are highly revered by the Muslim community because of their religious significance. Joining their ranks is Kairouan, a city in Tunisia, founded in 670 CE. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city houses significant religious landmarks including the Great Mosque of Kairouan, considered the first place of prayer in North Africa and the oldest mosque in Maghreb.
2. It houses the 2nd largest museum in Africa
With the biggest museum being Egypt’s Grand Egyptian Museum, Tunis’ Bardo National Museum follows in second, housing the largest collection of Roman mosaics as well as 200,000 year old stone age tools that were used in Tunisia’s Kebili. The museum also used to be a palace that was home to many of Tunisia’s past rulers.
3. It’s home to the World’s third largest Ampitheatre
Built in 238AD when Tunisia was under Roman rule, the Roman amphitheater of the village El Djem is considered the largest colosseum in North Africa. Its impressive 149 by 122 meter expanse can hold up to 35,000 spectators who used to marvel at gladiators battling it out in the arena.
4. Their National Anthem was written by an Egyptian
During the 1930s, an Egyptian by the name of Mostafa Saadeq Al-Rafe’ie wrote Tunisia’s national anthem, dubbed “Humat El Hima” meaning defenders of the homeland. The anthem originally had only one verse. Then in 1957, two verses were added by the Tunisian poet, Aboul-Qacem Echebbi, when it officially became the country’s national anthem.
5. Obi Wan Kenobi fought on its land
Any Star Wars fan will enjoy the fact that multiple locations in Tunisia were used to shoot scenes from this epic sci-fi. Some of Tunisia’s landscape was used to film everything from Luke Skywalker’s childhood home to even the man himself, Darth Vader’s childhood home. Locations such as Djebra, Matamata and Tataouine were among many used to film the series.
6. Robocop patrolled Tunisia’s street during COVID
During the peak of the COVID outbreak in 2020, Tunisia set out police robots called PGuards to patrol its streets and ensure that people abide by the lockdown and enforced curfew. If the robot stumbles upon anyone walking around, it would approach them and ask why they are in the street. They would scan peoples IDs and papers using a built in camera which are then checked by officers.
7. They are crazy for spicy food
Tunisians really love spicy food. They would add their famous chili pepper condiment, Harrisa, on literally everything. Hence why they were appropriately named Shaab Al Harissa, meaning the Harrisa people. In restaurants, the condiment would usually be served with oil and accompanied with bread to act as an appetizer.
8. Most Interesting Food Names
Other than being lovers of spicy food, Tunisians also love to add a layer of humor to their culinary dishes. They have a few dishes whose names might give you a good laugh. There’s Omek Houria, a mixed vegetable and egg salad, whose name literally translates to “Your mom is a fairy”. There’s also Rkeyeb Laazouza, small pieces of fried pasta whose name translates to “The knees of the old woman”.
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