Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Bardo Palace, Tunis

Idly surfing architecture sites like I sometimes do, I stumbled across this 1899 image of the throne room in the Bardo Palace, Tunisia. Fascinated by the combination of traditional Islamic architecture and European decoration, I started searching for more information about the Palace.

It seems that the Bardo is a medieval palace complex that was long a favorite residence of the Ottoman Beys (governors) of Tunisia, much renovated and enlarged in the nineteenth century. Above, the Tribunal Chamber.

And the last of the three 1899 images I found, the Lion Steps.

Today the palace is a popular museum. Hard to say how much it has been altered in recent decades, but it still retains that bizarre mix of medieval Islam and the modern west. What is up with the cannons over that door?

There are certainly are some lovely spaces. But I miss the crazy accumulation of chairs, clocks and so on in the 1899 pictures.

On the other hand the museum contains what looks like a magnificent array of ancient artifacts, especially Roman statuary and mosaics.

And then there are these gravestones from the infamous tophet at Carthage. According to the museum, the one below is a representation of the Carthaginian pantheon.

Looks well worth a visit.

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