Kairouan Old Medina is a city in central Tunisia and the capital of the governorate of the same name. It is located 150 kilometers southwest of Tunis and fifty kilometers west of Sousse. With a population of 139,070 in 20141, it is often referred to as the fourth holiest (or sacred) city in Islam and the first holy city in the Maghreb4,5.
Founded in 670, Kairouan flourished under the Aghlabid dynasty in the 9th century. Despite the transfer of the political capital to Tunis in the 12th century, Kairouan remained the Maghreb’s principal holy city.
Its rich architectural heritage includes the Great Mosque, with its marble and porphyry columns, and the 9th-century Mosque of the Three Gates.
Kairouan is the fourth most holy city of the Muslim faith and as such a major destination for pilgrimage, The history and Mosques in the city and the long history of Kairouan have seen it become a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The city quickly became a centre of religious teaching attracting muslims from around the world for Quranic and Islamic learning.
The first Arab city in North Africa6, the city was an important Islamic center in Muslim North Africa, Ifriqiya, until the 11th century. With its medina and its markets organized by oriental-style corporations, its mosques and other religious buildings, Kairouan has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1988. In 2009, it was proclaimed the capital of Islamic culture by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization7.
The city is also famous for its handmade wool carpets and pastries including makrouds.