Byrsa

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District of Punic Byrsa

Byrsa was the walled citadel above the harbour in ancient Carthage. It was also the name of the hill it rested on. The name is derived from the Phoenician word for citadel.

In Virgil's account of Dido's founding of Carthage, when Dido and her party were encamped at Byrsa, the local Berber chieftain offered them as much land as could be covered with a single oxhide. Therefore, Dido cut an oxhide into tiny strips and set them on the ground end to end until she had completely encircled Byrsa. This story is considered apocryphal, and was most likely invented because Byrsa sounds similar to the Greek word βυρσα, meaning oxhide.

The citadel dominated the city below and formed the principal military installation of Carthage. It was besieged by Scipio Aemilianus Africanus in the Third Punic War and was defeated and destroyed in 146 BC.

Saint Louis Cathedral was built on Byrsa Hill starting in 1884. Today, it serves as a cultural center.[1]

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Coordinates: 36°51′08″N 10°19′26″E / 36.85222°N 10.32389°E / 36.85222; 10.32389