P R O L O G : T U N I S I A
Update: The prologue through Tunisia started on October 22, 2022 at Cap Angela, the northernmost point of Africa. Impressions, reports and picture galleries of the runners and their support team are can be found here in the blog section. The completed daily stages can be found here.
"Ifriqiya" is the Arabic name for the region around present-day Tunisia, the former Roman African province. This is the origin of the name Africa, which today refers to the whole continent. This fact, and because Cap Angela (Ras Angela) is the northernmost point of the continent, "Cap to Cape" will start exactly there.
"Prologue" (Greek: prologos, preface) in literature is the introduction to a drama. Even though this project does not want to be a drama, the sheer length of the run, along with its geographical, climatic, social and political peculiarities, is a dramatic challenge.
"Cap to Cape" will cross the continent on the eastern route via Egypt, but Tunisia will be the prologue. The first three weeks will take you from north to south through the North African state, with a few small loops to take in the diversity of the landscape.
On the trail of Phoenician history
After starting at the northernmost point, Cap Angela, the runners will pass Bizert, a town closely associated with the independence of the new Tunisia. The route passes Utica, the oldest Phoenician settlement in the western Mediterranean, with a stop at Raf-Raf, a beach town to which the musician Anouar Brahem dedicated one of his most famous pieces ("Raf Raf")..
We continue south to La Marsa and Sidi Bou Said, an artists' village decorated entirely in white and blue, also known for its Trip to Tunis by the painters Macke, Klee and Moilliet in 1914 well known. This village is a few kilometres from Kartago (Carthage), which is steeped in history.
What there is room for on a cow's skin
Kartago is also a Phoenician foundation (814 BC), around which many legends entwine. Already the origin, together with its story about Ellysa, the future queen Dido ("Pure Didon") and her land seizure with a cut cow skin, is legend: When Elyssa arrives in Kartago on her flight from her brother or cousin Pygmalion of Tyros, the Berber prince of the region promises that she may take possession of as much land as goes under a cowhide. She then cuts a cowhide apart so skilfully that it covers the entire cow hill (Byrsa hill). The Byrsa Hill, with its archaeological remains of the city that perished after the three Punic wars against Rome, can be visited today. The walking route leads below the hill, past the old Punic port, to La Goulette, a port town with a large Jewish population. From there it is not far to the capital Tunis.
After a day in Tunis, the "Cap to Kap" team leaves the city for Soliman, the orange city, to Korbous, known for its hot springs, to Nabeul, the centre of Tunisian pottery. Hammamet, a popular tourist town, becomes a meeting point with well-known artists of the region. The route continues south along the coast to Port el Kantaaoui and Sousse, the capital of the region with a large university.
Sfax, an industrial and port city with six million olive trees growing in its surroundings, becomes the next stop. But not without stopping at another historical highlight: El Jem houses the largest preserved coliseum in the world, after the Roman one.
From the granary of Rome towards the desert
The entire region passed through was once considered the granary of Rome. The desert is still some distance away, but the landscape has already changed, and will continue to do so as we proceed. Via Gabes we go to Matmata, known for its troglodyte underground cave dwellings. Berber sights of this mountainous region line the loop through the Djebel Dahar mountain range. The Tunisian Tourist Board has just opened up this landscape for quality tourism.
From there, the route leads east over a causeway to the island of Djerba, which is already understood by the Tunisians themselves as an oasis.
The prologue to "Cap to Cape" ends there: The first 1000 kilometres have been completed. The journey continues in Egypt!