As one of the biggest economic, political centers along with religious and scientific attraction points of Islamic civilization, Kairouan is the first city where the Azan, Islamic call for pray, was practiced in Africa.
One of Tunisia’s most beautiful cities Kairouan’s history dates back to 7th century. In 2009 Organization of Islamic Cooperation selected the historical city as Capital of Islamic Culture which is also among UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The importance of Kairouan for Islamic expansion is noteworthy. Especially, when Al-Andulus, known also as Islamic Iberia was conquered by Muslims, Kairouan served as a logistic center. The city was established in 670 by Uqba İbn Nafi, a general served in Umayyad dynasty who led conquest of Maghrib, as a military base. Relatedly the name of the city Kairouan means military camp.
Since it was formed for security reasons, Kairouan looks like a a safe castle with its well-known walls around the city which was built by Governor Mohammed Hoazi and survive for the time being. Throughout the doors on the walls, one can easily reach the center where the historical bazaar is located. The Bazaar is the heart of life for Kairouan containing all colors of life. The bazarists are proud of loop-pile carpets named Zarbiyya. Among many other, one of the reasons that makes Kairouan primary touristic hotspot of Africa is the Barutta water well. Hundreds of tourists visited the city and taste water in this well which was built to provide water to city residents who suffered much from water scarcity.
The city’s central mosque, built in 7th century has a special place in Islamic history due to the fact that the first Azan in Africa was practiced here. The first mosque of Kairouan was built by Uqba Ibn Nafi in 671. The time-honored building serving today as the central mosque is exactly 1342 years old. The mosque which has been renovated for several times, presents one of the full-featured northern African Islamic architectural style. The minaret indicates main distinguished characteristics of its unique construction. Since it was very sensitive to temperature variation some part of it is protected by glassed in.
Kairouan was built on the heritage of an old Roman village called, Kamunia. The columns in the yard of the mosque which was constructed on 350 columns strengthen the possibility of Roman heritage.
Just like the columns, the Kairouan Mosque’s doors were also crafted by unique examples of wood-graving. While the feeling of serenity dominates outside of the historical building, the figures attentively embossed on the walls and eye-catching windows with stained glass turn inside to a restful place filled with artistic value. There is a water-well remained from 7 of them which continues to serve the Muslims coming to the mosque to pray.