• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector


  • Historical Function


  • Administrative Status

    Chief-city of the Governorate.

Location and site

Kairouan is located halfway between Tunisia's coast and its mountainous interior; the former was threatened by the Byzantines and the latter by the Berbers. At a distance of about 50 km. from the port of Sousse, it was established in the midst of a dry plain.

Urban Morphology

A stone wall 3 km. in length surrounds the Medina of Kairouan. Its northern and southern gates are connected by a major artery that crosses the city, passing amidst the souks. On either side of this street, within the 54 hectares of the medina, is a dense network of through and dead-end streets.

The whitewashed urban landscape is made up of low dwellings with discreet facades that date to the last three centuries. A number of cupolas rise above the horizon of flat roofs. Among the most venerable monuments that date to the time of the Hegira are the Great Mosque and the Mosque of Three Doors.

Registration Criteria

The Great Mosque is one of the most important monuments of Islam and a universal masterpiece of architecture. (I) The Great Mosque served as a model for several mosques within the Maghreb, in particular for their decorative motifs. The Mosque of Three Doors (866) is the oldest Islamic mosque with a sculpted facade. (II). Kairouan presents an exceptional testimony to the civilisation of the first centuries of the Hegira and Ifriqiyya. (III) The traditional Muslim architecture of Kairouan, which influenced with the city's spatial configuration, has become vulnerable because of economic changes and constitutes a valuable heritage resource. (V) Kairouan is one of the holy cities and one of the spiritual capitals of the Islamic world. (VI)

Historical Reference

  • Kairouan succeeded Carthage. Its foundation in 670 A.D. is linked to the islamicization of Ifriqiyya (Tunisia and eastern Algeria), of which it became the capital. At this time, Ifriqiyya was a province of the Umayyad Empire of Damascus.
  • Under the rule of the Aghlabids (800-909), who were related to the Abbassids, Kairouan enjoyed prosperity as the capital city.
  • At the dawn of the 10th century, the Shi'ites (who were enemies of the Abbassids), took over Ifriqiyya. In 989, the new Fatimid Dynasty (made up of Shi'ites) supplanted the Aghlabides and established its capital, first at Mahdia then at Kairouan. After failing to implant the Shi'ite culture, the Fatimids headed for Egypt in 972.
  • During the first half of the 11h century, the Christian influences in Kairouan disappeared and the Islamic culture was definitively established.
  • The Hilalians, who were sent to Kairouan in retaliation by the Fatimids, led a destructive expedition that dismantled Ifriqiyya in its entirety. Kairouan was sacked in 1057.
  • In the 12th century, the capital was relocated to Tunis, and Kairouan maintained its status as the first holy city of the Maghreb.
M. Radhouen Bouden
Commune de Kairouan
Avenue de la République
3100 Kairouan, Tunisie
+216.77 23.00.44, 23.03.24
+216.77 23.45.32
M. Mourad Rammah
Association de Sauvegarde de la Médina de Kairouan
Sidi Abid
Kairouan, Tunisie
+216 77 20126