2467 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel


Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

The traditional houses on Djerba were the fortified farmsteads called Menzels. Constant fear of attack from the 12thC meant that buildings were designed for defence.

From the outside these looked like small fortresses with blank white walls with a tower at each corner, often topped with a dome. These areas were used as summer bedrooms. They are the only parts with external windows, placed high so they cannot be reached. Living rooms surround the central courtyard.

Stricly speaking, the word menzel refers to the parcel of land and the house is a houch. The design of the menzels reflects a preoccupation with water conservation and temperature control. The rooftops and courtyards are designed to channel rainwater into underground tanks (impluviums) which provided a water supply for the house and to irrigate crops. They also helped keep the foundations cool. Thick rendered walls of mud and stone provided further insulation. White paint helps reflect the heat.

A single doorway leads into a central courtyard. Animals could be kept in here. The large rooms surrounding it would be used by different sections of the extended family. A large stone stove provided heat and was used for cooking. There were smaller storage rooms. The top storeys of the towers were reached by stone steps and were used as summer bedrooms. Slated floors provided down draught cooling whole house.

Near the menzel would be a traditional well flanked by 2 upright supports for a system of pulleys operated by a camel or mule. The boundaries of their land were marked by low earth banks.

Most of the menzels are now in ruins as the owners have moved into newer more modern houses. A few have been loving restored. There are quite a few scruffy menzels on the outskirts of Ajim on the Guellal road.

We had told our driver we wanted to see Menzels. We spent an hour on the first afternoon driving round Djerba trying to find some without success. Next morning the driver had done his homework and took us to find a group of deserted old menzels off the road between Sedghiane and Fadloune Mosque.

There had been quite a dense settlement of about four houses reached down a rough dirt track surrounded by palm trees and olive groves. There were other menzels close by. We began to understand why the new houses are built so close together. The wooden door on one of them was open so we went in for a look. Old water and olive oil jars were lying around.

The traditional way of life is disappearing fast on Djerba as there is more money from tourism than farming. To find the remains of the traditional way of life it is necessary to get off the roads and along the rough tracks.

Silver Travel Advisor

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.