The word Medina can refer to the 'old' city. In Tunisia
for example, most of the new parts of the city
were built by the French
following their occupation in WW II
. The older parts of the city referred to as the 'Medina' were fortified
sections which would include a watchtower
(used now as a calling tower for prayer
), the town centre (market stalls) and Mosque
. They were designed in such a way that you could live, fight, pray and die all in the same area. Smaller prayer rooms
would also be used as people defending
the city could not abondon their post on the walls or tower, to go to temple for prayer.
My personal experiences in these Medinas was definitely a good one, it really is like it looks like in Monty Pythons - The Life of Brian (apart from the clothes); incidentally the film was actually shot in Tunisia.
The market sellers are very, very keen to sell and are all over you like a rash, especially tourists (you just can’t help looking like one). One particular encounter started with "let me ask you one question, just one question". Before we knew it we were in his small shop talking about the price of a Ganja bong. All because I thought rouge meant red (in French it does; maybe he had a different meaning which meant "bong"), anyway two tanned leather camels latter we escaped.
People in Tunisia are in your face, but that is their way of life and how their culture is set up, once you get past the initial shock you can see it for what it is (friendly salesmanship) and start to enjoy the haggle.