Bulla Regia

Royal Bulla

Useful Information

Location: Near Bulla, Hammam Daradji, 170 km from Tunis.
Follow either Jendouba-Ain Drahem road or Boussalem-Balta-Ain Drahem road. Follow P17 south, 55 km south of Tabarka turn off onto C 59.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



Bulla Regia was a rich Roman town during the early years of the Christian era, located in the green Tell, the coastal region of Tunisia close to the Algerian border. At Roman times there was a little more rain than today, and the warm climate made the coastal plain extremely fertile, ideal for the production of grain. Tunisia became the main grain producer of the Roman Empire, the granary of the Empire and backbone of its military operations. Romans were provided with bread and circuses, the bread originating mostly from Tunisia, and the gladiators probably too. Every Roman soldier had his own sack of grain and a small group shared a mill which was used to bake bread and cook porridge.

Although Roman settlers and land owners became rich by trading grain, they never really became used to the hot climate during summer. But the Romans were very innovative, so they invented two leveled villas, with the winter villa above ground and the summer villa, almost the same size and of similar shape, which was some 10 m below cut into the rock. The caverns below had the temperature of the rock, which equalizes the long term average temperature of outside, some 22 °C. Light shafts provided light and air circulation. Because of the ideal living conditions with the natural air conditioning, underground houses became a sort of status symbol, and the size of the underground villa was a sign for the richness of its owner.

Romans tended to reuse their house desings. Roman vilas always had identical or at least very similar shapes. The floor plan is always very similar, only with marginal compromises to the relief. And it is similar with the underground houses, which were designed following three basic floor plans. The first is a vestibule running along three contiguous main rooms whose rear windows opened onto a large, deep air shaft. The second has a central courtyard, or peristyle, surrounded by rooms. The rooms have either above ground windows or openings in the ceiling. The third is a hallway with shallow rooms on either side, with windows set high in the upper walls.