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The Great Mosque is one of Kairouan’s major points of interest, the Great Mosque stands in the northeast corner of the medina, its massive minaret incorporated into the town walls. This is the oldest and most important Islamic building in North Africa and was originally built by Uqba ibn Nafi, the Arab commander who founded Kairouan in AD 672. Many of Tunisia’s other major mosques, including the Great Mosque of Sousse, took their inspiration from Kairouan’s Great Mosque architecture. The mosque covers a mammoth area, 135 meters long by 80 meters wide, with a vast inner courtyard surrounded on three sides by double-aisled colonnades of antique columns. 

The Barber’s Mosque (also called the Zaouia of Sidi Sahab) is not to be missed on a medina visit. The complex includes a mausoleum, mosque, and madrassa (Islamic school of learning) and was built between 1629 and 1692 over the tomb of one of Muhammad’s (the prophet of Islam) companions, who died in AD 685. According to legend, Sidi Sahab always carried a few hairs from Muhammad’s beard out of reverence for the prophet, hence the mosque’s name. The complex is notable for its magnificent tile decoration, much of which dates only from the 19th century. You enter through a forecourt, on the left of which are the imam’s lodgings, guest-rooms, and ablution fountains. 

The Museum of Islamic Art is Set in a beautiful park, the interesting Museum of Islamic Art in Raqqada is housed in a presidential palace built in 1970. The exhibits include finds from Kairouan, the Aghlabid residences at Raqqada and Al Abbasiya, and other towns in the region. A special highlight introduces the excavations six kilometers away at Sabra Mansourya (a circular palace built by Caliph Al Mansour in the middle of the 10th century).

The Mosque of the Three Doors is one of the oldest buildings in Kairouan, the Mosque of the Three Doors (Mosquée des Trois Portes or Djemaa Tleta Bibane) was founded in AD 866 by an Andalusian scholar. Its most notable feature is the facade with three doorways, from which it takes its name. There are two friezes of Kufic inscriptions, the lower of which dates to 1440. The minaret also dates from this year. Non-Muslims cannot enter this mosque, but you’re mostly here to see the famed front façade anyway.