Bulla Regia

Bulla Regia is a remarkable site, home to underground villas and priceless mosaics. The villas were part-constructed underground to keep the inhabitants cool during the heat of the summer months.

Located in Northern Tunisia, Bu...

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Bulla Regia is a remarkable site, home to underground villas and priceless mosaics. The villas were part-constructed underground to keep the inhabitants cool during the heat of the summer months.

Located in Northern Tunisia, Bulla Regia shows evidence in a very different way to Dougga of Roman presence in this agricultural region. At first sight Bulla Regia may disapoint, no great temples, arches or monuments mark the site, but don't drive on!

Approaching the ruins, one is suddenly aware that part of the houses and baths are below your feet. In order to remain comfortable in the summer heat, houses were built with a winter apartment on ground floor and summer quarters underground with hollow air - pipes built into the walls. Light was provided by windows in the top floor and unlike sober Matmata, rich mosaics graced the floors. Unique testimony to the genius of the builders of the Coliseum and the aqueducts! Nearby is a small but interesting little museum.


History

The city of Bulla was first mentioned by Latin classical sources when the pursuing Roman armies caught up with the Numidian king Hiarbas at Bulla where he had sought refuge (in 81 BC). It also appeared, much  later, (end of 4th century AD) in one of Saint Augustine’s sermons when he reproached  the inhabitants of  the city for continuing to go to such places of debauch as the theatre.

While their neighbours, the inhabitants of Chemtou, had long ago deserted them. In the writings of Arab travellers, Bulla Regia is referred to as Henchir bul. Archaeology and in particular Latin inscriptions are much more generous in terms of information supplied. They enable us to trace the history of the city since the 4th century BC until the Moslem conquest in the seventh century AD.

To see the image stream for Bulla Regia on Flickr click here (opens new window)