From Minaret of the Great Mosque, Kairwan, Tunisia


This photochrome print is part of “Views of Architecture and People in Tunisia” from the catalog of the Detroit Photographic Company. It shows the town of Kairwan (present-day al-Qayrawan or Kairouan), taken from the top of the minaret of the Sidi Okba Mosque, also called the Great Mosque. Kairouan, a city in central Tunisia located almost equidistant from the sea and the mountains, was described in the 1911 edition of Baedeker’s The Mediterranean, Seaports and Sea Routes: Handbook for Travellers as “a town of purely Arabian type, the most curious in Tunis.” The Great Mosque, is “one of the oldest in the world, and, next to the Kairwin mosque at Fez, the most important in Barbary…the poverty of the oldest building, founded by Sidi Okba ben-Nâfi in 671, is evidenced by the mud-built walls of the old mihrâb.”  Kairouan was a flourishing town by the ninth century under the Aghlabid dynasty, a major political and religious center. The mosque as it exists today is essentially a ninth century building. Kairouan is considered by most Muslims the fourth holiest place in the world, and it is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Detroit Photographic Company was launched as a photographic publishing firm in the late 1890s by Detroit businessman and publisher William A. Livingstone, Jr. and photographer and photo-publisher Edwin H. Husher. They obtained the exclusive rights to use the Swiss "Photochrom" process for converting black-and-white photographs into color images and printing them by photolithography. This innovative process was applied to the mass production of color postcards, prints, and albums for sale to the American market. The firm became the Detroit Publishing Company in 1905.

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Detroit Photographic Company, Detroit, Michigan

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Physical Description

1 photomechanical print : photochrom, color


  1. Karl Baedeker, The Mediterranean, Seaports and Sea Routes: Handbook for Travellers (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1911).
  2. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Heritage Centre, “Kairouan.”

Last updated: January 30, 2017