27 October 2010

Architectural styles in Tunis - Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul

The diffrent architectural styles in Tunis are most impressive.  Tunis can best be described as an architects dream.  The city appears to have it all from ancient Punic to ancient Roman, medieval Berber to medieval Islamic, French colonial, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Moorish, Gothic, Neo-Byzantine, modern Islamic and modern 21st century.  The architecture comes in clusters with layer upon layer of differing styles in various parts of the city.  The Medina appears to have some of the oldest buildings and the side streets in and around the town centre appear to have many Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings and the stretch of road between the airport and to the suburb of Gammarth tend to have mainly modern houses and buildings.

As from today, I will begin writing a series of blog posts with the aim of introducing some of the different architectural styles  here in Tunis.  So that in time, you will hopefully gain a better understanding and appreciation  for the marvellous architecture here in Tunis.

I will begin with the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul in Tunis.  This is a magnificent building and one of my favourites.  Here is an extract from a link provided by Wikipedia:  "The Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Tunis. It is named in honour of Saint Vincent de Paul, a priest sold into slavery in Tunis, who after being freed took an interest in helping Christian slaves in the area. The cathedral is the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Tunis. It is situated in the Place de l'Indépendence in the Ville Nouvelle, a crossroads between Avenue Habib Bourguiba and Avenue de France, opposite the French embassy.

The church was built in a mixture of styles, including Moorish, Gothic, and Neo-Byzantine. Construction began in 1893 and the church was opened on Christmas 1897, albeit with temporary wooden belltowers owing to a shortage of funds.

Cardinal Lavigerie had laid the first stone for a church on 7 November, 1881 a little further down Avenue de la Marine (now Avenue Habib Bourguiba). This was a Pro-cathedral; the Catholic cathedral for Tunisia at that time being St Louis Cathedral in Carthage. The Pro-cathedral was built quickly, but its condition soon deteriorated due to the adverse ground conditions, necessitating the construction of the current cathedral.

The number of Roman Catholics in Tunisia fell rapidly following Tunisian independence from France. A modus vivendi reached between the Republic of Tunisia and the Vatican in 1964 resulted in the transfer of selected buildings to the Tunisian state for public use, including the Saint Louis Cathedral in Carthage. However, the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul remains under the ownership and operation of the Roman Catholic Church in Tunisia."  The full article can be found on the following link: 

Figure 1:  Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul

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