The Great Mosque of Mahdia remains one of the most remarkable mosques in Tunisia. It is known by many names, including Jami’ Al-Kabir and Mahdiyya. By whatever name it is called, it remains a visual spectacle.
The mosque can be found at Mahdiya in Tunisia. It can be reached by car or public transport.
What to See
The mosque layout is rectangular and set at a northeast-southwest axis. The entry portal in the middle of the northeastern elevation goes to an entry porch. The courtyard elevation oriented northeast has seven horseshoe arches.
The middle arch is taller and wider than the others. It is set on two piers with two columns by its sides. The way to the prayer hall of the Great Mosque of Mahdia is lined up with seven arches. The prayer hall is nine bays wide and four bays deep. The arches are perpendicular to the qibla wall.
This mosque has undergone several renovations and reconstruction. The first one built on the site was by Obayd Allah El-Medhi in 916. In the 11th century, one of the walls collapsed and had to be rebuilt. In 1554, practically the whole mosque and the ramparts were destroyed.
In the 18th century, Youssef Sahib decreed that the mosque be rebuilt. A new prayer hall was to be added. Two courtyards and a freestanding minaret was added too. A narrow courtyard was also constructed.
A restoration project was started in 1961-65 by A. Lezine. The goal was to remove all the 18th century additions and restore the mosque to its original state. During the renovation process, only the elevation components oriented to the city remained.
Tunisian tours have different price ranges. An 8 day tour of the country for two people will cost US$1,600. Usually it is cheaper if you are traveling with more people. These week long tours will include accommodations and various amenities. Many of these travel tour packages can be seen on the Web.
The mihrab is shaped like a pointed horseshoe arch that is set on a couple of marble columns. The interior is semicircular. Nine flutes shaped like sea shells articulate it. the mihrab has horizontal band wraps. It is set on the mihrab fluted shaft. For each flute there is corresponding floral stonework.
The Great Mosque of Mahdia dome is noted for the dark marble band with verses from the Quran. The dome base over the drum has 24 windows with green glass.