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Tucked away like a precious jewel between Sousse and Sfax, this lovely port modestly conceals its prestigious and adventurous past. Proclaimed the capital of Tunisia in AD 921, Mahdia was long the centre of a power struggle between the Caliph of Cairo and local sovereigns. Repeatedly attacked by nomads, the Genoese navy and Sicilian troops, and then liberated by the Berbers, Mahdia became the headquarters of the pirates of Dargouth who battled with Spanish and Maltese invaders.
The Central Mosque, austere and sober, dates from the 10th century and the entrance to the Medina is through an enormous 16th century gate. Wandering through the old city visitors can see the vestiges of the ancient ramparts and fortress, visit the "Cape Africa" lighthouse and hauntingly beautiful sailors cemetery.
The Mahdia of today is that of fishermen mending their nets and silk weavers in the Rue Sidi Jaber. The tourist area has been built away from the heart of this old historic town which allows Mahdia to retain its traditional look and feel.
Mahdia is an hour from Monastir airport and 3 ½ hours from Tunis.