WIT Press

The Tunisian Wetlands Centre: Modern Uses For The Ottoman Fort Of Borj El Loutani (Ghar El Melh)


Free (open access)





Page Range

209 - 220




815 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


M. J. Viñals, P. Alonso-Monasterio, M. Alonso-Monasterio, M. Morant


The Fort of Borj El Loutani is part of an architectural complex of three Ottoman fortresses and an old harbour with arsenal dating back to the 17th century. It is located in Ghar El Melh (60 km from Tunis), on the north-western side of the Gulf of Tunis, on the shore of the lagoon with the same name. The conformation of this coastal land has historically resulted in its use as a strategic site for many civilisations that found in this place a safe refuge—one that is very defensible and away from immediate attacks by sea. The Fort was built by the Ottomans in 1659 and was used as a military base by an artillery division and as a prison. Over time, the Fort has undergone significant transformations and in 1922 was finally listed as a Tunisian Historic Monument. In 1964, the prison was closed, and, in 1990, the Tunisian government launched a restoration and enhancement project for this site. An interpretation centre was the first modern initiative implemented in 2013. This centre is devoted to Tunisian Wetlands. This work intends to demonstrate the importance of using these relevant monuments to allocate educational facilities in order to guarantee their maintenance and, thus, to highlight the social dimension of the heritage.


defensive architecture, historic buildings, interpretation centre, heritage management