We visited Tunis in September 2011, mere months after the Arab Spring died down in the country. We weren’t apprehensive about the stability of the place but we were excited about seeing an almost brand new nation. We did all the natural touristy bits but our highlight was stumbling across an art gallery called Palais Kheireddine (transformed into Le Musee de la Ville de Tunis) buried deep in the Medina that was once a former palace. It was virtually deserted but it was filled with artwork by local artists who had enough pent up aggression, borne out of years of oppression, to produce some really earthy art. The setting was perfect: a quiet space to wander around, with tall, white pristine arches framing works that were poignant, relevant and at times showed a zany sense of humour. A kindly caretaker took us under his wing and showed us some of his favourites, which included the gallery's sparkling mosaic tiled roof terrace overlooking the equally deserted square below. Round the corner is another gallery called La Dar Lasram, with subterranean looking arches that housed photographs from the protests taken by local photographers. Tunis felt like the most untouristy place on earth when we visited. Hopefully as democracy settles in, these local artists will reach a wider audience eager to know more about what makes this nation tick.
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