Carthage was one of the most powerful cities of the ancient world and spawned the powerful Carthaginian Empire which dominated much of the western Mediterranean. The ruins of this famed city can be found on the outskirts of modern day Tunis.
Carthage itself was central to the history of the ancient world. Legend states that the city was founded by the Phoenician Queen Dido in the 9th Century BC and the ancient metropolis certainly rose to prominence over the next 500 years.
However, three long and brutal wars with Rome, known as the Punic Wars, eventually led to the downfall and destruction of Carthage in 146BC. It is said the Romans salted the earth so nothing more could live on the site of the once-dominant city.
Having destroyed the Carthaginian Empire however, the Romans later realised the potential in the strategic location of the site. In the 1st Century AD they re-founded Carthage and it grew to become one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire.
As Rome’s power waned, Carthage was briefly captured by the Vandals in the 5th Century AD before Byzantine forces re-took the city. In 698AD, after many years of hard fighting, the city was finally captured by the forces of the Umayyad Caliphate who founded the new city of Tunis nearby, leaving the ancient metropolis to fade away.
Time has significantly taken its toll on the site and little remains of ancient Carthage today and much of what remains is spread over quite a broad area. The best way to begin exploring these ruins is probably by visiting Byrsa Hill and the Carthage Museum. The museum hosts a collection of Carthaginian (Punic) and Roman artifacts including marble sarcophagi and a model of Punic Carthage.
Other key points of interest include the impressive Antonine Baths, the Roman Amphitheater, Roman villas and reconstructed Roman theatre of Carthage. Among the best preserved Punic remains are the Magon Quarter, Punic Port and unnerving Sanctuary of Tophet.
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