President Bourguiba was the founder and first president of the Republic of Tunisia. He is held in great respect and love by the Tunisia people and his mausoleum is a bit of a pilgrimage place for them. He is buried in Monastir where he was born. His mausoleum is an impressive building which dominates Sidi el-Mezeri cemetery.
A ceremonial walkway leads to the tomb. At the start of is the Tomb of an Unknown Soldier, a symbolic grave for all Tunisians who fought for the freedom of Tunisia. The walkway is impressive with a decorative pavement with lamp posts and trees. It is a pity about the stalls selling footballs, balloons and tatty children’s toys and the horse drawn wagons touting for business.
The entrance to the mausoleum is marked by two tall gold topped pillars and the pattern on the walkway changes. It is an imposing building with a golden dome above Bourguiba’s tomb and smaller green domes on either side over the tombs of family members.
We used the side door into the building and visited the tombs of family members first. These are simple marble slabs set in the floor with inscriptions on the wall above. There are two exhibition rooms about Bourguiba with information and old photographs. A larger room behind the tomb contains his office furniture and some personal effects including his glasses.
The tomb is a massive marble structure in the centre of a large circular room with two storeys above with walkways round. His white painted chair is in front of the tomb and there is a massive chandelier hanging above it. It is very impressive.