The ancient city of Sfax is considered one of the most important Arab cities fenced in Tunisia and abroad, as its fence stands complete from its four sides to highlight the accuracy of its construction and its ability to endure the overtime as a fortress of the city and a testament to the resistance of the city’s people to the colonizer.
The city of Sfax founded a defensive fortress that was all the architecture in the current city area in the early 9th century CE.The sources of this tower differ in the history. While some claimed it has been in its place since the era of the Carthage state. Others, expect that it was an Arab construction built after the opening of Africa. But what can be certainly said is that the city fences were built in the middle of the 9th century CE, after the Aghlabids appoint Ibn Aslam al-Bakri Ali to plan the city. That’s why, the fence was mapped out in its present form and placed the Great Mosque in the center, which is the same until today.
After that, Sfax passed through the welfare, security, crises, revolutions and defeats that Tunisian countries experienced, with its specialization in some details at times. The following are the most prominent periods the city has gone through:
- In the Aghlabid Era (909 CE-800 CE): the city was established in 849 CE, then its Fences and Great Mosque were built.
- In the Fatimid Era (909CE- 1045CE): The invasion of the city by the pro-Abbasid Ruler of Sicily in 914CE. Then, the Fatimids regained it and its inhabitants alienated from Ismaili Shii new Rulers’ testament and supported “his donkey revolution” after that.
- In the Zirid Era (1045-1148CE): Benohalal Arabists ruined and weakened the state’s control over it.Then, the governers got their independence from the central authority for 40 years.
- In the Norman Conquest (1148-1156 CE): The first Christian conquest entered the city since its foundation in which Sfax was the first Tunisian city to revolt against the Normans. Then, it gained its independence by itself and remained managing its affairs alone for two years until the arrival of the Unitarians.
- In the Unitarian Era (1158-1228CE): Major architectural reforms and building of Majel El Nasiriya.
- The Hafsid Era (1574-1228CE): the Morskids have emigrated. Some of them settled in Sfax. In fact, great scientists appeared in this era, especially cartographers.
- In the Ottoman and Mouradi era (1574-1702CE): Submission to the Ottoman rule which removed the Spanish Crusader threat. Then, the city confronted the campaign of Saint John’s knights of Malta.
- In the Al-Husayni Era (1705 -1957 CE): Despite the plague that killed a large number of the city's residents، a major population explosion appeared.
- In the French Era (1956-1881): Violent resistance from Sfax upon entering the occupation. Then, its leaders led the struggle and Jihadist movements.
The ancient city contains many monuments including:
Historical Monuments: 11
The City Fence, Borj Ennar, El Kasba, Borj Rsas, The great Mosque, El Jallouli House, Makam Lella Masaouda, Rbaa market, El Haddedin hotel, El Kamour market, Taama market.
- The City Fence, The Great Mosque, Minaret of Sidi Omor Kammoun Mosque, Minaret of Sidi Ilyes Mosque, El Jallouli House, The Facade of Al-Mazghanni House which is situated in Sidi Belhassen approach
- Opulation of the ancient city: from 2,500 to 2,800
- Length of the city fence: 24 m
- Area of the ancient city: 24 hectares
- Number of religious monuments70: mosques, oratories, prayer stations
- Number of mosques11: it is the place where Friday prayers are held
- Number of banks: 4
- Number of Educational Institutions: 3-2 open(Abbasid School and Vocational School) and one closed(Al-Hussainia School)
- Number of openings and entrances of the ancient city: 15
- Height of the City Fence: from 7 m to 11 m