‘At the dawn of the modern era, the old Hafsid Ifriqiya, by then an Ottoman province, opened up to the Ottoman East and the European West. ’
Since Antiquity, Tunisia, a small country standing at the crossroads of Mediterranean civilisations, has been a meeting point between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Africa and Europe. At the dawn of the modern era, the old Hafsid Ifriqiya, by then an Ottoman province, opened up to the Ottoman East and the European West.
Exchange and interference
In the Tunisia of the dey
s and then the bey
s, the country's new Turkish rulers took to building mosques, madrasas, zawiyas,
palaces, barracks, public fountains, aqueducts and ramparts, particularly in the capital, thus ensuring that their name would live on.
European trading houses flocked to Tunis, the secure capital of the Regency, establishing themselves there under the protection of the peace treaties signed by the Sultan of Istanbul.
This period saw the rise of a strong penchant for all things European, initially among the princes, court dignitaries and other powerful individuals within the regime. In addition to making contact with the Europeans based in Tunis, some of them travelled to Europe: Bey
Ahmed, for example, was received by Louis-Philippe of France with all the ceremony of a royal visit in 1846. The missions to Istanbul led to the discovery of the most exquisite luxury goods available and had a profound effect on Tunisian art and architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries.