According to Wholevehicles, the port area of La Goulette is the first thing that cruise ship passengers see when they stop in the capital. Tourists usually do not stay here – they rush to the ruins of Carthage or to the picturesque Sidi bou Said. This is both right and wrong at the same time. That’s right – because the role of the only historical attraction here is a powerful, but dilapidated Ottoman fort of the 16th century. And wrong – because La Goulette is one of the most colorful areas of greater Tunisia. A considerable number of Italians and almost the same number of Jews live here, it has its own authentic beach, and simple restaurants with breathtakingly delicious fish crowd each other on the embankment. Claudia Cardinale also spent her youth here – a weighty argument in favor of visiting La Gouletta.
The name “La Goulette” is translated from the Italian-French local toponym as “neck” – the area is located exactly on the banks of a narrow channel connecting the Gulf of Tunis with the Lake of Tunis, which in turn extends almost to the very Habib Bourguiba Avenue.
The history of La Goulette dates back to the 7th century – then the Arab conquerors of North Africa landed on the shores of the bay and founded the medina – the modern Arab part of the city of Tunisia, as well as La Goulette proper as a capital port. The heyday of the region came in the 16th-17th centuries, when the official pirate fleet of the Ottoman Empire was located here, replenishing the Turkish treasury by robbing Christian ships. A lot of wealth fell to La Goulette, so Jews soon settled here. And at the end of the 19th century, the Italians began to arrive, who founded the Little Sicily quarter.
The atmosphere of the colorful Italian-Jewish-Arab-French port area is the first thing you should pay attention to in La Goulette.
What to see
The atmosphere of the colorful Italian-Jewish-Arab-French port area is the first thing you should pay attention to in La Goulette, even if to the detriment of a few sights.
It is worth taking a walk along the embankment, looking at the old houses, closely clinging to each other and going straight to the water’s edge. Most of the buildings here belong to the beginning and middle of the 20th century, many buildings are no longer inhabited, and they are slowly collapsing. The embankment and the main street of La Gouletta running parallel to it – Franklin Roosevelt Avenue – are literally crammed with fish restaurants: the first floor of any house is guaranteed to be a catering establishment. Despite the seeming unpretentiousness of the restaurants and the simplicity of the atmosphere, amazingly delicious fish dishes are prepared here. Even the golden youth of the capital does not shy away from dining at La Goulette.
A specialty of La Gouletta restaurants is grilled sea bream or seabass with rice, french fries or hot “tastira” salad, served with a slice of lemon.
The Ottoman fort Borj el Karrak was built by the Turks on the ruins of an old Spanish fort. Later it was used as a prison – the prisoners were taken from here to the medina of Tunisia for sale in the slave market. Entrance to the fort is free, little has been preserved inside, but the view from the fortress wall is magnificent.
It is also worth paying attention to the equestrian statue of the first president of Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba – from exile, he returned to his homeland through La Goulette.