INTRODUCING PROJECT BOUTIQUE-HOTEL “PALAIS-BAYRAM”

(TUNIS-MEDINA, 2005-2014)

AT THE BEGINNING, A LOVE STORY

Left aisle of the formal audience room, « beit-hajjam »

Main courtyard acroterion: “the sky is in the house”

The main courtyard (from above)
FATHI BOUZOUITA GAVE LIFE, SOME THIRTY YEARS AGO IN PARIS, TO A FAMOUS BOUTIQUE OF ETHNOGRAPHIC JEWELLERY AND HANDYCRAFTS MASTERPIECES, PICKED UP THROUGH ENDLESS TRAVELS TO ALL ANCIENT BAZARS IN PERSIAN AND INDIAN LANDS. HE ALSO CRUISED TUNIS OLD CITY (THE “MEDINA”), HIS BIRTHPLACE, EVERY NOW AND THEN. IN 2005, HE FELL IN LOVE WITH ONE OF THE LAST PRIVATE PALACES, THE “DAR-BAYRAM”, RELATED TO XVIII TH CENTURY, AND BOUGHT IT.
JEAN-PIERRE GUINHUT, A FORMER FRENCH AMBASSADOR, ADDICTED TO ISLAMIC ARTS, JOINED HIM TO LAUNCH THE PROJET.
We would like to share our journey with you…

  1. Presentation of the Dar-Bayram, two Palais in one…
  2. Primary goal: restore the framework of a distinguished urban Art-de-Vivre
  3. A major technical challenge
  4. Restoration of original decors
  5. Refitting decors (marbles, tiles, woodwork)
  6. From Hotel-de-Charme to Boutique-Hotel
  7. Renovation and preservation of Tunis, ancient Medina
  8. Historical context of Palais-Bayram

Dar Bayram (left), Dar Mamogly (right)

Inside the entrance hall, « Driba » (2005)

Andalous street Tunis
1. PRESENTATION OF THE DAR-BAYRAM
ONCE THE RESIDENCE OF THE HANAFI MUFTIS OF THE KINGDOM (ALSO CALLED THE « REGENCY » OF TUNISIA), THIS EXCLUSIVE MANSION IS LOCATED IN THE OLDEST PART OF THE ANCIENT CITY AND WAS INAUGURATED BEFORE FRENCH REVOLUTION.
AS DESCRIBED BY JACQUES REVAULT, THE HISTORIAN OF THE OLD CITY’S ARCHITECTURE, THE “DAR-BAYRAM” COVERS AN AREA OF 1.400 M2 AND WAS BUILT ON TWO LEVELS, THE GROUND FLOOR AND SEVERAL HALF-LEVEL UPPER AREAS, WITH AS MANY STAIRCASES AND TERRACES.
1.1. ON THE GROUND FLOOR, THE MAIN ENTRANCE COMPRISES A « DRIBA », A LARGE HALL WITH A VAULTED CEILING, WHERE VISITORS WERE ADMITTED AND SEATED, AND A “SKIFA”, A CHICANE CORRIDOR, TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF THE HOUSE. THE “SKIFA” ENDS IN THE MAIN COURTYARD, THE CORE OF THE HOUSE.
FOUR T-SHAPED ROOMS (CALLED « KBOU » ROOMS) OPEN ON THIS PATIO. THOSE ROOMS HAVE A CENTRAL SITTING ROOM IN FRONT OF THE ENTRANCE DOOR, SIDED BY TWO CABINETS (THE “MAQSURAS”), CLOSED BY DOORS. THE SALON IS FURNISHED WITH FRENCH, ARABIAN OR OTTOMAN STYLE SOFAS. ON THE RIGHT AND LEFT PARTS OF THE ROOM, CANOPY BEDS WITH GILDED PEDIMENTS CLOSE THEIR CURTAINS AT NIGHT. THOSE FOUR ROOMS ARE RICHLY ADORNED WITH COFFERED PAINTED CIELINGS, THREE LAYERS HANDCARVED ARABESQUE STUCCOS, LARGE GLAZED EARTHENWARE TILE PANELS (“ZELIJ”) STYLED ITALIAN, TUNISIAN OR OTTOMAN WAY, AND –LAST BUT NOT LEAST– WHITE OR POLYCHROME MARBLE FLOORS.

IN THE PATIO, TWO SIDE « IWANS » ARE SUPPORTED ON FINE WHITE MARBLE COLUMNS WITH OTTOMAN CAPITALS AND STUCCO ARCS. THEY DELIMIT A CENTRAL SQUARE WHICH IS OPENED TO THE SKY ABOVE.

The alternating presence in the heart of the house, of daylight and darkness, stars, seasons and passing birds, provides a rare opportunity to link up with the ‘cosmic dimension’ of Mediterranean civilizations.
IN ORDER TO KEEP WITH IT, COURTYARDS AND PATIOS HAVE BEEN KEPT OPEN.
RAIN WATER IS COLLECTED IN VAST BURRIED TANKS (“MAJEL”) FROM WHICH IT CAN BE DRAWN THROUGH VAULTED NICHES. IT NOW PROVIDES A COMPLETE SYSTEM OF EMERGENCY AGAINST FIRE HAZARDS (FOR THE DOMAIN AS WELLE AS FOR THE VICINITY).
ON THE GROUND FLOOR, WERE ALSO THE AREAS FOR SERVICES AS HAMMAM AND KITCHENS, WITH WELLS AND OTHER BURRIED TANKS. THOSE SPACES USED TO HOST MANY SERVANTS AND WERE SEPARATED FROM THE MAIN ROOMS BY THREE SECONDARY PATIOS, ORNATED WITH ELEGANT FONTAINS, BRINGING TOGETHER AIR AND FRESHNESS.
A VAST « MAKHZEN » (FROM WHICH OUR MODERN WORD “MAGASIN” IS COMING) WAS PROVIDING ROOM FOR THE STABLES AND FOR FOOD STORAGE; A SIDE VAULTED GALERY SEPARATES THE MAKHZEN AND DRIBA.
In another part of the mansion, two vast reception halls and a separate apartment look into a rare tangerine and sour orange orchard
1.2. UPPER FLOORS. THE MAIN STAIRCASE BRINGS YOU FROM CENTRAL COURT TO UPPER FLOORS, WHERE ARE SEVERAL OF THE EXCLUSIVE SUITES, AROUND A CIRCULAR GALERY; THREE OF THEM MAY BE USED TOGETHER AS ONE LARGE FLAT.
THE « BEIT-HAJJAM » (WORD FOR WORD: « THE HAIR DRESSER’S SHOP ») IS ITS EMBLEMATIC SPACE, WHERE THE HOUSE MASTERS USED TO WELLCOME THEIR HONORABLE GUESTS. HERE, OF COURSE, THE DOMINANT COLOURS ARE GOLDEN AND PURPLE ; THE RIGHT « MAQSURA » HIDES AN INTERNAL STAIRCASE, WHICH BRINGS YOU TO AN ELEGANT LIVING ROOM ON THE UPPER HALF-LEVEL, WITH A HIGH CEILING AND FOUR WALLS ENTIRELY COVERED WITH ANCIENT GREEN TILES.

THE NEXT SUITE IS A SQUARE ROOM WITH A MARBLE FIREPLACE « A LA FRANCAISE », ADDED ON THE TOP OF THIS AISLE IN LATE XIX TH.

AN ELEVATED KIOSQUE («KIOSHK»), THE PRIVILEGE OF PRINCELY RESIDENCES, INSPIRED BY ISTANBUL PALACES, OVERLOOKS THE OLD MEDINA’S TERRACES. IT IS TOPPED BY A RARE EARTHENWARE DOME, THE TILES OF WHICH MATCH WITH THOSE OF NEAR BY MONUMENTS. THE MAIN STAIRWAY HAS BEEN PROLONGED TO GIVE DIRECT ACCES TO TERRACES FROM WHICH ONE MAY ENJOY AN OUSTANDING PANORAMIC VIEW.

1 BIS. PRESENTATION OF THE DAR-MAMOGHLY
ADJOINING THE DAR-BAYRAM, THE DAR-MAMOGHLY (814 M2) WAS ALSO INSCRIBED IN JACQUES REVAULT’S INVENTORY FOR THE XVIII TH CENTURY. IT INCLUDES A SUCCESSION OF EAST-WEST ORIENTED SPACES.
THE FIRST ONE IS AN IMPRESSIVE VAULTED PILLARED HALL, IN A STYLE REMINISCENT OF MEDIEVAL CASTLES ARCHITECTURE. ITS RESTAURATION (VAULTS AND STONE PAVINGS), HAS BEEN EXTREMELY CAREFULL AND COMPLIED WITH THE MOST DEMANDING RULES OF THE ART. THIS EXCEPTIONNAL SPACE IS NOW DIRECTELY ACCESSIBLE FROM THE ENTRANCE HALL OF THE PALAIS BAYRAM, TO WHICH IT WILL BE THE MAIN RESTAURANT.

THIS “KNIGHTS HALL” IS EXTENDED BY A NARROW CORRIDOR (« SKIFA »), EQUALY VAULTED, WHICH FINDS ITS WAY BETWEEN NEIGHBOURING HOUSES. IN THE PAST, IT USED TO LEAD TO AN OTHER XVIII TH CENTURY MANSION, STILL STANDING AT THE BEGGINING OF THE EIGHTIES; WHICH WAS THEN ABANDONNED AND DEVASTATED IN THE FOLLOWING YEARS.

The vaulted stone pillared hall («makhzen») Before…

Works in Progress…

After… (2013)
TIYING TO THE DAR BAYRAM, THIS PROVIDENTIAL SPACE PROVIDED ENOUGH ROOM TO CREATE, INSIDE THE ESSENCE OF A NOBLE HOUSE, A TRADITIONAL HAMMAM (STEAM BATH) WITH ITS THREE ROOMS (COLD, TEPID AND WARM) AND TWO PERFORATED DOMES, A ENGLISH TEA-ROOM « A L’ETAGE » AND AN OTHER ONE IN
THE GARDEN LEVEL, A SPA, A LIBRARY AND A TINY FRUIT TREE GARDEN, PRETTY UNUSUAL IN THE HISTORICAL MEDINA.
2. PRIMARY GOAL: RESTITUTE THE FRAMEWORK OF A DISTINGUISHED URBAN « ART-DE-VIVRE »
THE PRIMARY GOAL WAS THE RESTORATION OF THE BAYRAM COMPLEXE, TO GIVE IT BACK THE REFINED ELEGANCE WHICH WAS ITS OWN BEFORE FRENCH REVOLUTION. A WAY TO SHOW NEW GENERATIONS THAT THEIR CITY AND ITS INHABITANTS WERE NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!

Before works: cleaning rubble

Preparatory …works

Renovation in progress
THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND THE WORKS
THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND THE WORKS WAS TO PRESERVE ORIGINAL VOLUMES OF THE ARCHITECTURE AND COMPLY BY NOWADAYS STRICTEST REQUIREMENTS OF MONUMENTS RESTORATION. TO THIS END, IT WAS NECESSARY TO USE ORIGINAL MATERIALS AND, EACH TIME TECHNICALY POSSIBLE, GO BACK TO TRADITIONAL BUILDING METHODS, STILL KNOWN BY AN ELITE OF GOOD TUNISIAN CRAFTSMEN. THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SUCH PRINCIPLES REQUIRED PERMANENT CONCERTATION WITH THE ENTERPRISES DURING MORE THAN SIX YEARS AND PERSONAL INVOLVMENT WITH THE WORKERS. WITHOUT THEM, WITHOUT THEIR EXEMPLARY DEDICATION AND THE MIXING OF DISCIPLINES, NOTHING WOULD HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE. ONE SHOULD ALSO KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS DELICATE MUTATION OF CIVIL-ENGEENIRING INTO QUASI ARCHEOLOGICAL WORK WAS ACHIEVED IN THE SENSITIVE BACKGROUND OF THE “JASMINE REVOLUTION”. THE NEW-YORK METROPOLITAN MUSEUM EXPERIENCE FOR ITS ISLAMIC AISLE WAS MOST USEFUL, ALONG WITH LESSONS DRAWN FROM AGA-KHAN NETWORK’S EXPERTISE IN THE RESTORATION OF ISLAMIC CITIES AND MONUMENTS.
IN THE NEAR FUTURE, WHEN THE PALAIS BE TRANSFORMED INTO A HOTEL, THE VOCATION OF THIS PRIVATE RESORT, IN A FRAGILE URBAN ENVIRONMENT, WILL ALSO
BE TO TAKE PART IN THE REHABILITATION OF THE LIVING CONDITIONS OF SURROUNDING EMPOVERISHED COMMUNITIES.
A MAJOR TECHNICAL CHALLENGE
BUT FALLING IN LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH! IN 2005, AS MOST OF THE BUILDINGS IN THE HISTORICAL MEDINA, THE DAR-BAYRAM IS NOT IN GOOD SHAPE AND THREATENS TO COLLAPSE.

2005 the false marble arch is broken and has to be removed

Rehabilitation work (reinforced lintel and natural lime)

Then back to haute tradition

2005 deep cracks in the walls…

…repair in depth, after stabilization of the building structures

…same room, other crack !
THE FIRST EMERGENCY WAS TO STABILISE THE BUILDING STRUCTURE, SHAKEN BY THE MOVES OF INSTABLE GROUNDWATER TABLES, WITH BEARING WALLS CRACKED FROM TOP TO DOWN. TWO YEARS OF EFFORTS HAVE BEEN NECESSARY FOR OUR TEAM OF INGENEERS, WHICH ENDED IN THE MOST SATISFACTORY WAY.

Repair of walls and terraces
and vaults (phase1)

Rehabilitation (phase2)

(phase3)

PHASE 1

PHASE 2

PHASE 3
PART OF THE SERVICE AREA, EXHIBITING A 15% SUBSIDENCE, HAD TO BE DEMOLISHED. WALLS WERE REBUILT WITH THEIR ORIGINAL MATERIALS: BLOCKS OF STONE, ALTERNATED WITH FLAT BRICKS AND CARROT-SHAPED HOLLOW TERRACOTTA, BONDED WITH THE IMMEMORIAL NATURAL LIME MORTAR. SUCH TECHNIQUES WERE USED MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO, IN PUNIC THEN ROMAN BUILDINGS. THOSE ELEGANT STRUCTURES, THOUGH NORMALY INTERNAL, HAVE BEEN LEFT APPARENT IN TWO PLACES, TO SATISFY THE ARCHEOLOGICAL TASTE OF VISITORS AND GUESTS. THEREFORE, CEMENT HAS BEEN STRICTLY CONFINED TO BUILDING OF CONCRETE BEAMS ANS SLABS, WHEN THE LAW PROVIDES IT FOR THE SECURITY OF BUILDINGS AIMING TO THE PUBLIC.

2005: all decorative features had to be removed and replaced

Reinstallation of pavings (after renovating water storage tanks)
RENOVATION OF WALLS IN DEPTH, IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE PROCESSING OF WATERPROOF COVERS ON TERRACES, COMPELLED US TO REMOVE NEARLY ALL ANCIENT DECORATIVE ELEMENTS: MARBLE PAVINGS, WELLS, FOUNTAINS AND COLUMNS, TILE PANNELS, DOORS AND WINDOWS… THIS WAS DONE WITH A CAREFUL METHOD OF IDENTICATION, PHOTOGRAPHIC CLASSIFICATION, APPROPRIATE HANDLING AND SPECIFIC STORAGE.

HAVING IN MIND THOSE OUTSTANDING CHALLENGES, LET’S NOT KID OURSELVES:

« La Patience est la Vertu cardinale de l’Orient! »

WE THOUGHT WE WERE PATIENT… BUT THIS AMBITIOUS PROJECT TAUGHT US IT IS NEVER ENOUGH. LAUNCHED ON THE 12TH OF SEPTEMBER 2007, AFTER A FULL YEAR OF PREPARATION, THE RENOVATION WORKS ARE BEING COMPLETED BY SEPTEMBER… 2014.

RESTORATION OF ORIGINAL DECORS
IN PARRALEL WITH THE PROGRESS OF STRUCTURAL WORK, RESTORATION OF MARBLES, ANTIQUE WOODWORK AND EARTHENWARE PANNELLINGS WAS PROCESSED STEP BY STEP IN AS MANY SMALL WORKSHOPS CREATED ON THE SPOT. AS FAR AS HORIZONTAL PAINTED COFFERED CEILINGS AND VERTICAL PLASTER STOCCOS WERE CONCERNED, THEIR REMOVAL WAS UNTHINKABLE AND IMPOSED TO RENOVATE UPPER PARTS OF DECORATED SUITES FROM ABOVE OR FROM REAR, AND REMOVE UPPER FLOORS, INCLUDING HEAVY MARBLE ONES. THOSE OPERATIONS, COORDINATED WITH ONE AN OTHER, TOOK AROUND TWO YEARS, AS WELL AS REFITTING CONSOLIDATED AND RESTORED ELEMENTS.

2005, everything seems OK… but everything has been shaken

Cleaning the space between upper pavings and underneath ceilings

Reassembling of polychrome marbles (summer 2010)
REFITTING DECORS (MARBLES, TILES, WOODWORK)
MOST DECORATIVE ELEMENTS HAVE BEEN REPLACED AT THEIR ORIGINAL LOCATION. WHAT COULD NOT BE, DUE TO THE GENERAL DECAY OF THE MANSION, HAS BEEN REASONNABLY REDISTRIBUTED ON THE WALLS OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AND ORNATED ROOMS.

State of things in 2005

Rénovation of walls …

Reinstallation of earthenware tiles

Same room, opposite wing

Rénovation of walls…

Reinstallation of symetric panels
NOT A SINGLE RECENT OR MODERN TILE HAS BEEN INSERTED IN THIS WHOLE, WHICH IS THEREFORE EXTREMELY HARMONIOUS WITH THE JUXTAPOSITION OF PANNELS AND BORDERS OF EARTHENWARE TILES ALTERNATED AS IN ANCIENT RUGS.

State of things in 2005…

Rénovation of walls and coffered painted ceilings

Back to period decors
IN THE SAME SPIRIT, ALL REPARABLE WOODWORKS HAVE BEEN KEPT AND PAINTED CIELINGS HAVE BEEN REFRESHED. XVIII TH CENTURY ORIGINAL PAINTINGS HAD BEEN COVERED IN XIX TH AND XX TH CENTURIES, FOLLOWING THE PERIOD TRENDS ; THEY HAVE BEEN RESTITUTED. IN SOME PAINTINGS, SUBJECTS OF THE « SIECLE DE LOUIS XV » (FIRST PHASE OF THE HUSAYNID DYNASTY UP TO HAMMUDA-BACHA IN 1782) OR EVEN PERSONNAL TASTE OF QUEEN MARIE-ANTOINETTE ARE STILL VISIBLE.

The most recent repainting is hiding a treasury!

Looking for more ancient layers…and finding them

Up to original XVIIIth century complete decor!
AS FOR DOORS AND WINDOWS, THE STRIPPING OF « COLONIAL PERIOD » WHASHED-OUT-BLUE ALLOWED THE REAPPEARANCE ET REHABILITATION OF THE ADMIRABLE HARMONY OF ANTIQUE NATURAL WOOD-PIGMENT-BASED PAINT: RED (MAHOGANY), YELLOW (CURCUMIN) AND BLACK (WALLNUT STAIN). ANCIENT WOODEN LOCKS HAVE BEEN PRESERVED OR REPLACED INSIDE THE DOORS, AS WELL AS CIELING MOULDINGS AND ROSETTES.

Before stripping …

After hot-air stripping

Restoration of natural pigment-based paints
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THE ORIGINAL GILDING HAVE BEEN HAND-REPAIRED WITH GOLD LEAVES AND FINISHED WITH A PERFECT PATINA BY A SMALL TEAM OF YOUNG SKILFUL CRAFTSMEN.

FOR THE MASTERS OF WORKS, THE NEVER-ENDING SPECTACLE OF STOCCO PLASTERERS, PAINTERS, CARPENTERS, GILDERS AND MARBLE-CUTTERS AT WORK WAS AN ENCHANTMENT. EQUALLY, THE DAILY PRESENCE ON THE SITE, WATHEVER THE SEASON, OF CARING, TRUTHFUL AND DIGNIFIED WORKERS AND CRAFTSMEN, APPEARED AS A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE PASSION FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND OF THE PLEASURE TO LIVE IN HISTORICAL TUNIS.

FROM HOTEL-DE-CHARME TO BOUTIQUE–HOTEL
A HOTEL PROJECT WAS SOON ADDED TO THE RENOVATION PROJECT, AS THE BEST WAY TO JOIN THE STATE INITIATED RESTAURATION OF A TOWN WHICH IS AN OPEN-AIR MUSEUM. IT WAS ALSO THE ONLY REASONNABLE WAY TO SHARE WITH A MAXIMUM OF PEOPLE THE CHARMES AND BEAUTIES OF THIS HISTORICAL MANSION, WITH A HOPE TO ENHANCE A CULTURAL TOURISM WHICH IS STILL EMBRYONIC IN TUNISIA, BUT IS YET MADE POSSIBLE BY AN INEXHAUSTIBLE ARCHITECTURAL, ANTIQUE AND ARTISTIC HERITAGE.
WITH THE COMPLETION OF THE RENOVATION AND INSTALLATION OF MODERN EQUIPEMENT, THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE MANSION INTO A HOTEL BEGAN IN NOVEMBER 2014. THE FIRST IDEA WAS OF A PEACEFUL HOTEL-DE-CHARME, WITH AN ENGLISH TEA-ROOM. THEN A RESTAURANT AND A HAMMAM-AND-SPA WERE ADDED, AS WELL AS A SPECIFIC AND VERY ELEGANT SPACE FOR SEMINARS AND CONFERENCES. IT AIMS TO OFFERING INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS THE ADVANCED FEATURES AND THE LUXURY ATMOSPHERE OF BEST “BOUTIQUE-HOTELS” IN AN OLD MANSION WITH “CHARACTERE”.

THIS SMALL LUXURY HOTEL WILL WILL OFFER TI ITS VALUED GUESTS 17 SUITES, EACH DECORATED IN A DIFFERENT WAY, A TEA-ROOM INSPIRED BY ONE OF THE BEST ONES IN PARIS, A CLASSY RESTAURANT SERVING TUNISIAN SPECIALS, AN ORIENTAL HAMMAM-BATH WITH A RELAXING SPA AND THE ENJOYMENT OF TWO CLOSED GARDENS

A LABIRYNTH OF TERRACES LOCATED AT A STONE’S THROW AWAY FROM THE GREAT MOSQUE OF TUNIS, THE ZITUNA (732), AND A ZIGZAG PATTERN PASSAGE LINKING THE TWO “DARS” (ON FIRST FLOOR) PUT A FINISHING TOUCH TO THE VISIT: THE PANORAMIC PERSPECTIVE EMBRACES 360 DEGREES OF THE MEDINA. THE SOUTHERN VIEW IS BARRED BY THE “JELLAZ” WOODED HILL, CROWNED BY A SANCTUARY DEDICATED TO THE CITY PATRON SAINT, SIDI-BEL’HASSAN (ABU-HASSAN AL-SHAZILI, 1197-1258). THE MONUMENT ITSELF IS SILHOUETTED AGAINST THE TWIN-HORNED SACRED MOUNT OF CARTHAGE’S GODDESS, TANIT (-800). THIS PICTURESQUE SCENERY ADDS THE FINISHING TOUCHES TO THIS EXCEPTIONAL LANDMARK.

Southern view: Sidi-Bel’hassan’s Hill against Tanit’s (twin-horned) sacred Mount! (So is Tunisia)

The zigzag corridor between the two palaces (Vasarely’s?)

Northern view : minaret and domes of the Zituna Great Mosque (698)
RENOVATION AND PRESERVATION OF TUNIS ANCIENT MEDINA
TUNIS MUNICIPALITY, THE NATIONAL HERITAGE INSTITUTE AND THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE SAFEGARD OF THE MEDINA HAVE WORKED HARD FOR THE REHABILITATION OF A MAJOR PEDESTRIAN TOURIST ITINERARY IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE MEDINA, FROM PACHA STREET TO KASBA SQUARE. THOSE EFFORTS HAVE BEEN AWARDED BY THE PRESTIGIOUS AGA-KHAN ARCHITECTURE ARWARD AND LISTED IN THE UNESCO INVENTORY OF WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE (1979). THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE ITINERARY HAS BEEN LAUNCHED IN LATE 2013, BETWEEN KASBA SQUARE (STILL THE SEAT OF THE GOVERNEMENT FOR ABOUT A THOUSAND YEARS) AND THE ROYAL FUNERARY COMPLEX OF TURBET-EL-BEY. THE PALAIS BAYRAM IS AT THE HEART OF THE AREA.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF THE TWO PALAIS
TUNIS SUPPLANTED CARTHAGE, FALLEN INTO DECAY UNDER THE VANDALS (439-533). SINCE VII TH CENTURY, IT HOSTED SUCCESSIVELY THE HEADQUARTERS OF GOVERNORS OF THE OMAYYAD CALIPHS OF DAMASCUS (698), THE ABBASID CALIPHS OF BAGDAD (800), THEN THE FATIMID CALIPHS OF MAHDIA (TUNISIA, 948-973) AND CAIRO (973-1171).
CAPITAL OF AN INDEPENDANT PRINCIPALITY, UNDER THE ROYAL TRIBE OF THE BANU-KHORASSAN (1059-1158), THEN OF A KINGDOM (1236), UPGRADED TO THE RANK OF A DISCRET CALIPHATE (1255) UNDER THE HAFSID DYNASTY (UP TO 1574), THE OLD CITY OF TUNIS HAS ALWAYS HAD A VIBRANT COMMERCIAL, INTELLECTUAL AND POLITICAL ACTIVITY.

Tunis : a satellite view (lexilogos.com)

Ceramic Orientation guide provided by the City of Tunis

Doors of the two historical City walls
AGAINST THIS LONGSTANDING STATELY BACKGROUND, SOCIAL LIFE IN TUNIS HAS BENEFITED AN UNTOUCHED STABILITY DURING MORE THAN FIVE HUNDRED YEARS (MORE OR LESS PROLONGED UNDER FRENCH PROTECTORATE); THIS IS A MOST UNUSUAL PHENOMENON IN THE HISTORY OF SOUTHERN STATES. IT UNDERLIES THE CREED THAT THE MEDINA, AT THE CENTER OF THE CAPITAL, HAS A FUTURE.
PART OF ARISTOCRATIC FAMILIES (THE « BELDIS ») WERE STILL LIVING IN THEIR ANCESTRAL HOMES, WHEN THE COUNTRY RECOVERED ITS INDEPENDENCE, JUST BEFORE JACQUES REVAULT PUBLISHED HIS MASTERPIECE, « PALAIS ET DEMEURES DE TUNIS AUX XVIEME ET XVIIEME SIECLES » (CNRS 1967) ET « AUX XVIIIEME ET XIXEME SIECLES » (CNRS 1971), AN INDISPUTABLE REFERENCE.
DAR-BAYRAM « TUNSI » (NOT TO BE MIXED WITH DAR-BAYRAM « TURKI », ON SIDI-AZUZ STREET), HAS BEEN BUILT IN LATE XVII TH OR EARLY XVIII TH CENTURY, AT THE PLACE OF MORE ANCIENT PALACES LINKED TO THE ANDALOUSIAN MIGRATIONS FROM SPAIN (1492 AND 1610). FORTUNATELY, THE RENOVATION OF ONE PAINTED CEILING DISCLOSED THE DATE OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE OTTOMAN REDECORATION (MAY BE THE SECOND ONE?) ON A TIMBER: “JUNE THE 18TH OF 1780” (1194 OF LUNAR HEGJRA). TWO OTHER REDECORATIONS HAPPENED, ONE IN XIX TH CENTURY, THE OTHER IN THE XX TH. IT WAS ONE OF THE LAST MANSION INHABITED BY ITS ORIGINAL LANDLORDS, ILLUSTRIOUS AMONG THE IMPORTANT FAMILIES OF THE CITY; THE BAYRAMS LEFT IN 2005.
FOR, INDEED, THE « MODERNIST » WAVE WHICH FOLLOWED THE TWO WORLD WARS, DID NOT SPARE TUNIS AND ITS MEDINA WAS PROGRESSIVELY EMPTIED OF ITS IMMEMORIAL POPULATION AND INVADED BY MIGRANTS FROM POOR OUTSKIRTS AND RURAL AREAS. THE SURVIVAL OF THE OLD CITY WAS QUICKLY AT STAKE. TODAY, THE RESCUE OF ITS PRIVATE ARCHITECTURAL TREASURIES LOOKS LIKE A RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK. FOR DAR-BAYRAM AND DAR-MAMMOGHLY, THE BET IS WON!

RÉSERVEZ !

+ 216 31 393 393

reservation@palaisbayram.com

6, Rue des Andalous, Bab Menara 1008 Tunis, Tunisie

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