Habib Bourguiba Mausoleum

Page update - Feb 3, 2023

The Mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba is the main attraction in the city of Monastir in Tunisia. The beautiful building, styled like a mosque and covered in white marble, keeps the body of the father of the country's independence and the builder of modern Tunisia. You can see this beauty for free, all you have to do is get there.

The prices and other information on this page have been updated in February 2023.

How to get there

From the hotels in the resort of Monastir (Skanes), you should take a taxi. The hotels are a long way from the city center. The distance is 5 to 15 kilometers (3 to 10 miles) and the metered price is between 5 and 12 Tunisian dinars. For the current exchange rates, see our review "Money in Tunisia", and read about the taxis fares in our review "Taxi in Tunisia".

From hotels in Mahdia, Sousse or El Kantaoui, there is a convenient and quick train ride. The ticket price from Sousse to Monastir is 1 dinar, from Mahdia to Monastir is 2 dinars. Read our in-depth review "Metro Sahel" about the train.

From the hotels in the rest of Tunisia, we don't recommend traveling on your own - it's expensive and tiring, and the attraction is not as important after all.

How to walk from the train station to the Bourguiba Mausoleum

After leaving the train station building, walk forward to the medina walls and then right to the Bab Al-Quokka Gate. See below for a map of downtown Monastir, click on the map to enlarge to full screen.

Enter the gate and go straight ahead, do not turn anywhere. Be careful, L' Independence street is motorable and very narrow. Drivers in Tunisia do not take much care to obey the traffic rules, as we have discussed in detail in our review "What not to do in Tunisia".

On L' Independence street, after 500 meters (1,600 feet), you will reach the Habib Bourguiba Mosque (you will find it on the left side), you will recognize it by its tall minaret. Immediately after the mosque, there is a large square, and you will see the Ribat (fortress) ahead.

Turn left at 90 degrees, you will see a large alley and two towers of Bourguiba Mausoleum ahead.


The Bourguiba Mausoleum is shown during any sightseeing tour of Monastir. These tours are available from hotels in Monastir, Sousse, El Kantaoui, and Mahdia. The tour lasts half a day and costs around USD 30.

Ticket price

Free of charge. There are no additional fee-based services at the mausoleum.

When you walk to the mausoleum, most likely local Tunisians will annoy you with offers to see the mausoleum for free. And they really show and some even tell something interesting within the limits of their knowledge of English or other languages.

Afterwards they try to lure tourists to local souvenir shops which share the profits with them. There's nothing wrong with that, but we still don't recommend using these people's services.

Opening hours

In the summer season (April to October) - from 9 am to 5-30 pm (9-00 to 17-30).

In the winter season (November to March) - from 9 am to 4 pm (9-00 to 16-00).

Security control

All visitors are screened at the entrance. The sicurity check may be full including a manual bag search, or it may be nominal and you simply have to go through a metal detector. It depends on the laziness of a particular guard shift.

It is officially forbidden to bring inside:

- food or drinks;

- stabbing or cutting objects;

- pencils, pens, felt-tip pens, markers and any writing items.

It is risky to try writing on the mausoleum. As an example, on September 26, 2012, a Salafist activist (name withheld) went to prison for eight months for desecrating the Habib Bourguiba Mausoleum.

We do not recommend trying to do the graffiti! There is CCTV. And even if not caught directly at the mausoleum, the color of the All Inclusive bracelet will tell you exactly which hotel to look in.

Many sources say that there are two soldiers of the Presidential Guard on duty at the mausoleum at all times.

On October 31, 2013, a suicide bomber with explosives attempted to break into the mausoleum but was detained. Details are unknown as Tunisian Interior Minister Mohamed Ali Laroui only reported the fact of his detention.

A bit of history

Habib Bourguiba became the president in 1957 after the recognition of independence and the overthrow of the king. He was a liberation hero in the eyes of the people, madly popular.

In the 60s, Habib Bourguiba embarked on several projects for personal reasons - the rebuilding of the Carthage Palace, the construction of his summer residence in Skanes (now a museum) and the most ambitious - the mausoleum for himself and his family.

Habib chose his hometown of Monastir and the city's central cemetery, Sidi el-Mezri, as the location for the mausoleum. The cemetery is named after the 12th-century theologian Sidi el-Mezri, and his tomb is located there.

The architect for all these projects was Olivier Clement Cacoub, who was paid by Habib Bourguiba to travel around the different countries to choose the best designs.

However, Olivier Cacoub did not excel at originality in this project. Habib Bourguiba's mausoleum is almost exactly like a classic Maghrebi mosque. Only there are two minarets (the classic version has one) and they are located not in the corners of the courtyard, but on the edges of the main gate.

The mausoleum was built in the western part of the cemetery and was completed in 1963. The courtyard and facing are made of white Carrara marble, one of the world's most valuable varieties. The cost of the project was not disclosed.

In the 1970s, Habib Bourguiba had already made careful preparations for his death. In 1976, his marble coffin was made. He left precise instructions for his son Habib Jr. to invite world leaders to the funeral, and the funeral had to be postponed for two days to allow these leaders to arrive. Habib had planned the ceremonial procession for his body from the Carthage Palace in Tunis to Monastir.

These plans were not designed to come to realization. Habib Bourguiba died at his home in Monastir on April 6, 2000, and there was no procession.

Habib Bourguiba was buried in the mausoleum on April 8 after a small ceremony at his home and a religious ceremony at the Habib Bourguiba Mosque. Other leaders present included Jacques Chirac (French president), Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Algerian president), Yasser Arafat (Palestinian leader), and Mohammed Hosni Mubarak (Egyptian president). The ceremony was brief and not even televised. Tunisia was in mourning for 7 days.

An interesting fact is that by that time Habib Bourguiba's relatives had already been buried in the mausoleum, but we will talk about that a little later.

What to see

The mausoleum of Habib Bourguiba is accessed via a large walkway, 200 meters (650 feet) long and 30 meters (100 feet) wide. In this alley, tourists are encouraged to take photos with camels, buy souvenirs, and are lured to neighboring shops in all sorts of ways.

In front of the alley, look out for two mini-mausoleums. The first is called the Mausoleum of Martyrs in the Struggle for Independence and several people are now buried there. The second is for condolences, meaning that wreaths are placed there on memorial dates.

Walk through the alley and you will come to the main gate, which is closed. This gate is worth admiring, although the decor on it no longer shines as it used to. See a small gallery of photos below, click on the photo to enlarge.

Turn right and walk along the fence, and after 100 meters (330 feet) there will be an entrance for visitors. There you will pass the security check and you can see the mausoleum.

The mausoleum courtyard is small, about 20 by 30 meters (60 by 100 feet). The courtyard is surrounded by a beautiful colonnade just like the courtyards of mosques.

The towers (we cannot call them minarets as it is not a mosque) are 25 meters (82 feet) high. The gilded central dome is beautiful, the secondary domes are green. The design of the domes exactly repeats the architecture of the classical Maghreb mosque.

The main entrance to the mausoleum is a massive bronze door. Note the inscription, "Great Fighter. Builder of the new Tunisia. Liberator of women". Attention, this entrance is closed! See a small gallery of photos below, click on the photo to enlarge.

Two doors lead inside, both to the right of the main entrance (the bronze door). The first door leads upstairs to a balcony, where you can see the marble sarcophagus from all sides from the top of the first floor (see photo). Most visitors are unaware of this door and balcony.

The second door leads to the ground floor. Along the corridor, there will be a lattice on the left, through which you can look at the sarcophagus. Naturally, Habib Bourguiba's body is covered (the sarcophagus is fully closed). It is not customary in Islamic countries to display the body. Note the Quranic reading stand.

There are three rooms along the corridor to the right. Habib Bourguiba's relatives are buried in two, and the central room houses a small museum with personal belongings. Habib Bourguiba's most important and interesting personal belongings are displayed in two places: in the mausoleum and at the Habib Bourguiba Museum in Skanes. See a small gallery of photos below, click on the photo to enlarge.

On display in the mausoleum are a desk, writing material, glasses, the party membership card number 0000001, the passport and other documents. A separate stand contains commemorative photos of the leaders of different countries. Habib Bourguiba's clothes and the books he liked to quote - Hugo, La Fontaine, Moliere and Racine are on display.

This is the end of the visit to the mausoleum, there is not much else to see.

Important and useful tips

- The map on this page shows the location of Magasin General. Why this store is interesting and valuable, read our in-depth review "Magasin General";

- On the way from the train station to the mausoleum, you will pass the Medina with lots of shops and boutiques and there are some big (by local standards) shopping centers around Bourguiba Mosque. Shopping for souvenirs and gifts in this part of town is very convenient. Read our in-depth review "The 16 Best Gifts from Tunisia" to find out exactly what to buy;

- At the Monastir train station, there is usually an Ooredoo representative selling SIM cards, which is handy;

- Don't forget to see the sights near the mausoleum - the Ribat of Monastir and the Museum of National Costume.

Have a great trip to Tunisia, and read our interesting pages about the country (see the pages list below). © 2020-2024