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The history

Who has not heard of Hannibal and this city who dared brave the might of Rome? Now the ruins of both these great empires lay open to the sun and wildflowers. Declared a national monument, the town of Carthage and nearby Salambo abound in vestiges of the Punic and Roman empires, baths, dwellings, temples, shrines and the fabulous naval port of the Carthaginians.

The hill of Byrsa, where in the 8th century BC, Carthage was founded by the legendary Princess Elissa-Dido, is a storehouse of history. Newly restored, the former cathedral of Saint Louis, which crowns the hill is now a cultural center and the nearby national museum of Carthage holds an impressive collection of Punic statues, steles and urns. How strange that this breathtakingly beautiful site should have been the theater of such violence, as a Roman historian wrote of the fall of Carthage "the city was then razed and burnt to the ground and the accursed land covered with salt to ensure its barrenness."

For a thousand years, Phoenicians were masters of the Mediterranean and over 200 war ships and innumerable merchant vessels were sheltered in the nearby port of Salambo. At its center the Admirals island still exists and archeologists are reconstituting the pavilion with its shrine and docks. Next to the ports lies the ancient sanctuary of the goddess Tanit (Tophet) a quiet, shady square of hundreds of funeral steles.

The Romans returned to Carthage and built on its ruins a new Carthage resplendent with great buildings, theaters, villas and baths. Carthage became the administrative capital for Africa and its importance can be seen in the Antoinine Thermal baths, one of the largest built under the Roman empire with the "cool room" an amazing 47 meters long and 15 meters high. The Roman Theater is still used today for the summer festival of Carthage.