Dougga is an ancient city located in the mountains inland of Tunisia. The city was one of the contenders to Carthage. Nature has afforded Dougga a high degree of protection, explaining its early occupation. Dougga bears a rich heritage. UNESCO qualified Dougga as a World Heritage Site in 1997, believing it to be the best-preserved Roman small town in North Africa. Numidian-Berber, Punic, ancient Roman and Byzantine culture can all be found.
Visitors spending their holidays in Tunisia, marvel at stone streets still grooved by chariot wheels from long ago. There are many well-preserved monuments: a Punic-Libyan mausoleum, the capitol, the theatre, and the temples of SaturnJuno Caelestis.
Dougga spreads over 65 hectares, tantalizing visitors with temples and markets charmingly placed on a mountainside overlooking wheat fields and a valley. Archeological digs have uncovered new and exciting finds. A type of tomb unique to the Numidian world has been discovered. These tombs are referred to as bazina tombs or circular monument tombs.
Dougga has important religious temples such as the Temple of Saturn. The Temple of Saturn, previously the site of the Temple of Baal, features Corinthian columns. The inner courtyard is enclosed by Corinthian portico. Beneath this courtyard was a cistern which held the head of the Statue of Saturn. A hypogeum, an underground burial chamber, holds what may have been a pagan cemetery.
Dougga has many impressive monuments including ; the towering Lybico-Punic Mausoleum; the Licinian Baths with tunnels which were used by slaves servicing the baths; the Southern Baths which have large portions of mosaic floors and walls; the Temple of Caleistis and the Temple of Minerva that bear symbols of the Roman era.
One of the most exciting features of Tunisia is the numerous festivals held each year. Tunisian people are expressive and friendly, making celebration memorable. Tunisian festivals include summer harvest, spring arrival, fishing season and more.
During these festivals, tourists and natives participate and celebrate by dancing, eating and drinking. These festivals are a wonderful time. The festival in Dougga, however, is particularly unique.
One of the most preserved examples of Roman Africa, the theater in Dougga was built in 168 or 169 CE. One of a series of imperial buildings, the theater could seat 3500 spectators. These buildings were built over the course of two centuries, adapted to the terrain. A dedication was engraved into the portico that dominates the city, as well as the pediment of the stage. The dedication was celebrated with “scenic representations distributions of life, a festival and athletic games.” The theater had three tiers in a semi-circular shape.
This theater, beautifully preserved and able to seat up to 3,500 people, is the stage on which the Dougga festival performs. The Dougga festival has a setting like no other festival, set on such a grandiose stage. Every summer, wonderfully captivating classical dramas are performed at the Dougga festival, enhanced by such a beautiful and historic Roman theater.
Roman temples stand against time. Festivals bring joyous celebration. Picturesque beaches and warm sun greet each day anew. Dougga, offering the best of both old and new, is the vacation experience of a lifetime.