El Jem (Thysdrus)

The town of El Jem is situated 40 km southwest of Mahdia and contains the most impressive Roman monument in Africa, the amphitheatre. Thysdrus -El Jem’s Roman name- became a rich and bustling town, thanks largely to the export of olive oil to Rome.


A tax revolt around the year 230 AD installed Gordian as its ruler.  The town did not thrive as before and Gordian’s only notable legacy is the amphitheatre.  It is not much smaller than the Coliseum in Rome and is better preserved, despite being seriously damaged at the end of the 17th century when Mohammed Bey blew up one side of it to evict the followers of Ali Bey.  

Aside from the main amphitheatre there are two smaller amphitheatres on the side of the Sfax road and the town also houses a Museum with an important collection of Roman mosaics.

Worth visiting:
The amphitheatre and its underground chambers which housed the gladiators and the wild animals.


The museum with its collection of some of the best mosaics in Tunisia