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This is the Mahdia city guide. in which Cities and Memory travelling sonic reporter Rafael Diogo explores the soundscapes of this Tunisian city, so you know what to listen out for on a visit to the city. This is part of our ongoing series of city sound guides, highlighting the sounds that characterise some of the most beautiful cities on Earth.

Mahdia city guide

Mahdia is a city steeped in history and bursting with beauty. Nestled on the coast of Tunisia, this ancient city has witnessed the rise and fall of empires, and yet, its beauty endures. From the calls to prayer echoing through the ancient mosques to the bustling markets filled with the scent of spices and the sound of merchants haggling, Mahdia is a feast for the senses. But beyond its vibrant streets and colorful alleys, lies a deep sense of serenity and tranquility. The city’s seaside stretches out into the Mediterranean Sea, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

1. Sleepy waves in the port

The sound of the sea in a picturesque fishing port can be a calming and soothing experience. The waves of the Mediterranean Sea crash against the shore with a gentle and rhythmic sound, creating a mesmerizing symphony that transcends time.

The gentle lapping of waves on the shore blends together harmoniously, forming a unique and enchanting soundscape. As the water moves with a fluid motion, ebbing and flowing as the tide changes, the soothing sound of the sea washes over you, transporting you to a place of serenity and peace.

2. Muezzin calls

In Mahdia, the muezzin’s call is an integral part of the city’s soundscape, a symphony of sound that reflects the city’s rich cultural heritage and deep sense of spirituality. The melodious voice of the muezzin resonates from the minaret of the mosque, carrying the essence of faith to every corner of the town.

With a voice that is both powerful and gentle, the muezzin’s call rises and falls in a mesmerizing cadence, invoking the divine and calling upon the believers to join in prayer. As the muezzin’s voice fades away, the air is filled with a sense of serenity and calm. The echoes of the call linger in the air, creating a serene ambience that envelopes the city in a peaceful embrace.

3. Skifa El Kahla, Gate to the Old Town

As the evening approaches, the bustling sounds of the medina slowly fade into a hush. The clanging of metal doors and wooden shutters being closed, and the sound of locks being clicked into place signal the end of the day. The occasional sound of a car or motorbike passing by adds to the atmosphere, but otherwise, the medina becomes a peaceful and serene place.

Amid this tranquil setting, the sound of birds chirping can be heard, piercing through the otherwise muted sounds of the medina at dusk. Their voices are clear and melodious, and the notes they sing are repeated in a rhythmic pattern, adding to the enchanting soundscape of the city.

In Mahdia, the medina is not just a historic district, but also a living and breathing part of the city’s culture and identity. As the sounds of the medina become quieter, the city prepares for a new day, filled with new experiences and adventures. The sound of the birds chirping at dusk serves as a reminder of the beauty and harmony of nature that can be found even in the heart of a bustling city.

4. The sea at full moon

From a distance, the sound of the sea can be heard, a distant murmur that fills the air with the promise of the ocean’s vastness. As the moon rises high in the sky, the sound of the sea becomes more pronounced, a symphony of sound that captivates the senses.

The waves seem to be larger and more powerful, creating a deep rumbling sound that can be felt in the air, even if you are not directly on the beach. The sound of the sea is a constant reminder of the immense power and beauty of nature, a force that is both mesmerizing and humbling.

In Mahdia, the sound of the sea is an integral part of the city’s soundscape, a melody that echoes through the streets and alleyways, reminding the inhabitants of the city of the vastness and wonder of the world beyond their shores.

5. Street sellers

As the seller cycles through the streets, his voice and the sound of the speaker fill the air, creating a persistent and repetitive soundscape that captures the attention of all those around. The seller’s voice can be heard over and over again, repeating the same phrases, sometimes in a singsong-like manner, as he announces his goods to passers-by.

The ambient sounds of the city, such as the chatter of pedestrians and the distant sounds of traffic, form a backdrop to the seller’s persistent and rhythmic sales pitch, blending together to create a unique and captivating soundscape. It is a soundscape that is hard to ignore, drawing one in and creating a sense of excitement and anticipation. A persistent and repetitive soundscape that serves as a reminder of the energy and liveliness that reflects every corner of the city.

6. The sounds of traditional cafes

Upon approaching a traditional cafe, the chatter and excitement of the natives can be heard emanating from the street. Upon entering, the sounds of the football match and the passionate cheers and jeers of the local fans fill the air, accompanied by the occasional outburst of joy or disappointment as the game progresses. In the background, the sound of the commentator’s voice and the aroma of strong coffee can be heard and smelled respectively.

The sound of a traditional local cafe can be a thrilling and immersive experience, with the lively energy of the locals and the excitement of the game creating a unique and memorable soundscape.