Considered the fourth holiest site in Islam due to the Great Mosque, the oldest in North Africa, Kairouan feels far removed from the relative hedonism of the beach resorts to the east. Unlike many of the cities and towns in the region that cultivate tourism as an industry, Kairouan seems able to absorb the busloads of day-trippers and retain its conservative, low-key relationship to outsiders. Besides the religious significance, the medina is an interesting and beautiful place to wander, especially in the late afternoon when the sun creates shadows, highlighting the charming and ornate doors, and the blue-and-green window shutters and balconies. Kairouan has always been a place of travellers, whether here for trade or the purposes of pilgrimage, a city accustomed to strange people from far-off lands. There's something fundamentally Tunisian about the place - Islamic to its core and with deep roots in tradition, but adapted to the commercial necessities of the modern world.