The town is dominated by the pale golden walls of the ribat which glow in the sunshine. The original fortifications from 796AD were built as part of the coastal look out system to defend the Muslim coastline against incursions from the Christian north. It is one of the oldest and largest of the military structures built by the Arabs in North Africa. It was reinforced and surrounded by an additional wall in the 9thC & 11thC.
The ticket office is in the foot of one of the towers. Entry is 5TD + 1TD for a photo permit. It leads to a corridor flanked by former guardrooms which now house display panels in French and Arabic. Beyond is a massive courtyard with the smaller courtyard of the women’s ribat beyond. A very tall lookout tower (Nador) in one corner has a very narrow and steep spiral staircase winding anticlockwise to the top. Passing people on the staircase is difficult and there is little space at the top. The views from the top make it worth the effort. The 360? vista includes the Great Mosque with ruins in front, marina, and cemetery with Bourguiba’s mausoleum.
A series of steps and ramps lead to the top of walls with a walkway and more views.
There is a small museum in what was Prayer Hall. The information is mainly in Arabic with a little French. There are carved stone steles, glassware, pottery, coins, old sundial, pages from the Koran, old textiles…