Béja

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Béja, Tunisie
باجة
Entrée de ville de Béja2.JPG
Béja, Tunisie is located in Tunisia
Béja, Tunisie
Béja, Tunisie
Coordinates: 36°44′N 09°11′E / 36.733°N 9.183°E / 36.733; 9.183
Country Tunisia
Governorates Béja Governorate
Population (2004)
 • Total 106,441
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Website www.commune-beja.gov.tn

Beja (Arabic: باجة‎, French: Béja) is a town in Tunisia, Africa. It is the capital of the Béja Governorate. It is located 105 km (sixty miles) from Tunis, between the Medjerdah River and the Mediterranean, against the foothills of the Khroumire, the town of Beja is situated on the sides of Djebel Acheb, facing the greening meadows, its white terraces and red roofs dominated by the imposing ruins of the old Roman fortress.

Old door in Béja.

Geographical features[edit]

Famous for its fertile soil, Beja drew all the masters of the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians set up important trading posts. Their presence is felt through numerous Punic necropolis which have been unearthed in 1887. The Carthaginians, recognizing the importance of maintaining their authority in this area, built a garrison and fortified the town. Beja was extremely desirable, not only because of its fertile soil but because of its geographic location. It was at the doorway of the mountains and it was the crossroad for Carthage and Tunis going toward Cirta and Hippone.

History[edit]

The town endured brutal assaults by the Carthaginians, the Numidians, the Romans, and, later on, by the Vandals. The Numidian king Jugurtha made the town his governing headquarters. Originally the town was named Waga, which became Vacca and then Vaga under the Romans and eventually Baja under the Arabs and Béja under the French.

The Romans destroyed the old Carthaginian citadel and replaced it with a new one; they built fortifications that are still standing today. Under the Roman domination, Beja became prosperous and was the center of a diocese. According to Sallust, who relates the details of the Jugurthine War between Jugurtha and Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus to possess Beja, Beja was the wealthiest warehouse of the kingdom and the center of intense commerce.

The town was taken and destroyed by the Vandals. The citadel and ramparts were demolished. The abandoned town remained in that state for a century until the arrival of the Byzantines. They renovated the fortress and took real pleasure in beautifying the town.

After the Umayyad conquest of North Africa, the city became part of the Umayyad Caliphate.

In 1880 France occupied Tunisia. On April 24, 1881 Beja in its turn was occupied by the column led by Logerot who had arrived from Algeria through the Kef.

Beja remains a picturesque town with wide horizons, a healthy climate and rich and fertile soil. Another distinctive feature is its family life, its traditional friendliness and hospitality towards foreigners.

The renowned aristocratic families who owned most of the fertile lands were minimal such as the Blagui family.

World War II[edit]

On November 16, 1942 a German military delegation came to our town to give our Mayor Jean Hugon a 24 hours ultimatum to surrender the town. As a reaction to the ultimatum the latter informed our civil governor Mr Clement who in turn sent the message to Algiers. The next day, November 17 the first parachuted British battalion landed on the hills north of the town. Thursday November 19 German planes bombed our town for the first time, as a warning. This broke the long period of peace Beja had known for many centuries. The next day, Friday November 20, Beja was furiously bombed by German airplanes for many hours, because of its key position leading to the roads of Tabarka, Mateur, Bizerte and Algeria. The town became the stage for ferocious battles between the Germans and the Allies who fiercely defended it, at the expense of severe military and civil losses. The final German assault was launched from Mateur and was halted 15 km from Béja, on the night of 28 February 1943.

Sister cities[edit]

  • Portugal Beja, Portugal (1993)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°44′N 9°11′E / 36.733°N 9.183°E / 36.733; 9.183