I have been intending to go to El Jem for quite some time but being up…
The small agricultural town of Testour is in the north of Tunisia and is best known as a place of pilgrimage for Jews who visit the tomb of Rabbi Fraji Chawat. The town is 20 km southwest of Medjez-el-Bab and about 95 km southwest of Tunis, close to Dougga in the northern part of the Tell
The charming town is perched on the hills of the Medjerda Valley and was known in ancient times as Tichilla. It has a rather Spanish character as it was rebuilt by Muslim and Jewish refugees who originated from Andalusia. During the 17th century all those with a Jewish or Muslim family history were exiled from Spain in 1609 and many came to Tunisia. Those who could not afford to settle in Tunis were granted land in Testour and they began to build and reshape the architecture in their more familiar Spanish style. They were seen to be industrious and wealthy people who took a pride in their new home, building mosques and bath houses with great imagination. The beautifully decorative Great Mosque was built at that time, but the town remains both Muslim and Jewish.
The minaret is particularly interesting as it has two Star of David symbols on the eastern side, probably an emblem of unity between the two exiled religions. The minaret is also one of very few in the world which has a clock. Its numbers are symbolically placed backwards as a sign of the exiles who wished to turn back the clock to when they were happily settled in Andalusia. The clock has long since lost its hands. The wide main street still has many of the 14 mosques which lined the street in the 17th century. They were all of the same design – a square tower and a round crown on top. They were all used for prayer, but some were also used for businesses and public meeting rooms. Testour has a small but busy market and a factory which produces thousands of beautiful glazed tiles which are used in many public buildings and mosques throughout Tunisia. In June, Testour hosts an annual festival of Andalusian “maloof” music.
From Tunis, the journey can easily be made by bus, shared taxi or hire car. Follow the P5 west for 79 km until you reach the delightful town of Testour.
Where to Stay
Testour currently has no hotels. The nearest is in Teboursouk, 25 km away near Dougga, where there is a pleasant hotel. The other option is in Medjez el Bab 20 km away, but this hotel does not have a good reputation.
The town has some simple local restaurants in the town centre.
Testour has no nightlife
Climate in Testour
This region has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.
The town and the surrounding area have no banking facilities.
Buses and shared taxis are the best way to get around locally and as far as Medjez el Bab, Teboursouk, Le Kef and Tunis.