Sbeïtla, Tunisia

Crédit photo : Bernard Gagnon

Sbeïtla is a small town in the center of Tunisia, located 243 km from Tunis and 215 km from Tozeur and the desert.

Known for its best preserved ruins of ancient Tunisia, it belongs to the Governorate of Kasserine since 1956 and regroups a total of 24,597 inhabitants.

The economy is mainly based on handicrafts, agriculture (especially the cultivation of the olive tree) and tourism linked to the archaeological site.

Sbeïtla organizes two international festivals, the International Festival of Abadla since 1980, and the International Festival of Spring of Sbeitla, since 2001, in the theater (festival founded by the poet and actor Adrien Helali).

In ancient times, Sbeitla was known by the name of Sufetula. The city was founded by the Emperor Vespasian at the end of the 1st century AD.

With the spread of Christianity and like most of the great African cities, Sufetula became the seat of a bishopric in the third century AD.

The Vandals occupy it from 439 to 533 AD before the Byzantine reconquest of the emperor Justinian from 533.

Throughout the centuries, the city built fortifications against the Berber tribes and then the Muslim armies from Tripolitania in the south.

The year 647 saw the decisive victory of the Muslims over the Byzantines.

Today, the magnificent archaeological site of Sbeïtla (Sufetula) covers about twenty hectares, out of the fifty that undoubtedly counted the ancient city. The site contains treasures such as the remains of three temples dedicated to the Capitoline triad, the thermal baths, the forum, a palestra, a theater, an amphitheater, political buildings (especially Diocletian’s arch) and religious buildings , (basilicas, churches) and mosaics. This extraordinary place has not yet been fully excavated, and one is far from having discovered all its secrets.