The perennial myth of Carthage and its Phoenician founder Alyssa is still seducing visitors of Tunisia. This city-republic of explorers, navigators, and bold merchants is known for its purple boats which used to trace maritime routes towards Eastern shores, Greece, ancient Gaul, and the soon-to-be-conquered Hispania.

The prodigious epic of Hanno, who was a pioneer of African coasts, and Himilicon, who made it for the tin mines of the British islands, is still present in history books.

Carthage which was defeated three times by Rome and was resuscitated by Julius Caesar and Augustus to become the prosperous African province was a real Roman attic. It was also a blessed source of pure olive oil which illuminated the Mediterranean city for centuries. It thus made fortunes which were wisely converted into aqueducts, viaducts, theatres, temples, and rich residences embellished with eternal mosaics.

During all these Latin centuries, the first celestial messages that came from Palestine with the first Jewish migration then with the Fathers of the Christian church made of the African province an ardent home where St Cyprian and St Augustine would found the Universal Catholic Church.

This soil where the grand book of history reversals has always been written, witnessed the decline then the collapse of a great Roman culture. It also underwent the unexpected domination of the Germanic Vandal tribes who not only seized Carthage but also Rome. Only the resurgence of Constantinople’s Byzantine power in the VIth Century brought this episode to an end to leave the place for a long reign of Byzantine quarrels.

Cavaliers of Islam who cropped up in the Arabian vacuum in the VIIth Century consecrated these sequences of history and culture for the foundation of the sacred city of Kairouan which would spread Islam to Andalusia.

The majestic architecture of rosaries in the Arabic towns of the Maghreb, the grand mosques-universities of Tunis with the thousand-year old Zitouna, that of Fez’s Qaraouyynes and Marrakech’s Koutoubia which were relayed by Seville’s Giralda and Alcazar, Cordoba’s Merquita, and Granada’s Al Hambra would constitute a culminating point of the triumph of spirit and art in the common history of the southern and northern shores of the Mediterranean.

This immense work was served by an uninterrupted chain of academic libraries where the legislator Sahnoun and doctor Ibn Al-Jazzar from Kairouan, Ibn Rochd (Averroes) from Cordoba, and later Ibn Khaldoun from Tunis would provide Europe with incandescent tools for its Renaissance.

The visit to the new Bardo Museum will allow distant visitors to discover, through the new departments, and undertake a journey back in time through the magnificent works of mosaicists, sculptors, illuminators, and calligraphers who are most of the time anonymous authors of master pieces that are offered to the curious and later amazed looks of the millions of visitors who are expected in this real, clear, and bewitching labyrinth.

The richness of the Bardo collections implies the choice of a department or a limited series of outstanding works. The visit is thus partial but it opens an exquisite perspective for repetitive visits and discoveries that will always be unexpected.