Group before Bab Aleona, Tunis, Tunisia


This photochrome print is part of “Views of Architecture and People in Tunisia” from the catalog of the Detroit Photographic Company. It shows a small group of people outside the Bab Aleona (more often seen as Bab Alioua) gate of Tunis. Two of the men are mounted on pack mules and two others balance piles of goods on their heads. Located at the south-eastern edge of Tunis, Bab Alioua hosted a tram station. It opened onto the Cimetière Sidi Bel-Hassen, described by the 1911 edition of Baedeker’s The Mediterranean, Seaports and Sea Routes: Handbook for Travellers as “the largest Mohammedan cemetery of Tunis, now desecrated and therefore open to ‘unbelievers’.” A nearby mosque “where many of the former beys’ wives are buried, stands on the site of a cavern which was for many years inhabited by the Moroccan saint Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Shadhili (died 1258), the founder of the Shadhiliyya brotherhood.” Tunisia was occupied by the French in 1881 and administered as a protectorate in which the nominal authority of local government was recognized. Europeans at one time made up half the population in Tunis. Rapid redevelopment of the city occurred as the French built new boulevards, neighborhoods, and infrastructure and the city became divided into a traditional Arab-populated medina and a new quarter populated by immigrants. The UNESCO World Heritage List citation for the medina of Tunis states that during the medieval period and earlier “Tunis was considered one of the greatest and wealthiest cities in the Islamic world. Some 700 monuments, including palaces, mosques, mausoleums, madrasas and fountains, testify to this remarkable past.” 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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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, “Medina of Tunis.”

Last updated: January 30, 2017