Roman Baths and Cisterns

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Every Roman town had its public baths. In El Kef the baths occupy a massive site in the old town. They have been partially excavated although the site is now getting overgrown with vegetation.

There is little information about the site and no plans. It is very confusing as the area was subsequently used as a church and it isn’t always clear what bits are what. One wall is lined with tomb stones. These had a jug carved on one side and an olive press on the other. There are the remains of a large hexagonal pool surrounded by arches which is filed with dirty water and litter.

The cisterns are across the road and are massive covering an area of 40x42m. They still have their ventilation covers on top and contain water. These are normally kept locked unless the site guardian is around.

Below the baths is Ras el Aïn which can be reached using the path down the side of Sidi Ahmed Gharib Mosque. This is very squalid as it is used as a lavatory by locals. Go the long way round along the road. There is a mosaic and a lion’s head fountain which was dry when we visited but should flow into a bowl. A spring runs down a channel fed from another piped water source. The large fountain area was surrounded by a scruffy unkempt garden. This area felt run down and unpleasant. Avoid.

These are definitely for the Roman fanatics or the tick brigade.

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