In Tunis medina, a house with a view – of Tunisia’s past and present


In the medina of Tunis, built into the wall of the Zitouna Mosque is a darkly sparkling gem, Eddar.

The antiques shop Ali Chammakhi’s runs from his family’s 400-year-old home is one of its kind. (N.B.: The Chammakhis themselves have lived there a mere 250 years, as Ali wryly explains. But the house was standing long before then.)

On its roof is a garden of succulents in pots that Mr Chammakhi designs himself.

Inside the shop is the kitchen installed by the Chammakhi family a couple of centuries ago.

And deeper in are treasures lifted from beys’ mansions, the homes of nobles and humbler dwellings of ordinary Tunisians.

There are marfas (painted wooden wall-hung racks for weapons), keskes (a traditional chicken steamer from the south of the country), amphoras, rugs, swords, traditional chairs, mosque lamps, Bakgha (leather slippers), dolls’ wardrobes for little girls of the 19th century and a great deal more.

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac