Béja

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Béja
باجة
Clockwise, from top left : Béja skyline, Stork Statue, Door of Sidi Abdel-Kader Mausoleum, the Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire Church, The Friendship Square, The Great Mosque, the Kasbah
Clockwise, from top left : Béja skyline, Stork Statue, Door of Sidi Abdel-Kader Mausoleum, the Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire Church, The Friendship Square, The Great Mosque, the Kasbah
Official seal of Béja
Seal
Nickname(s): The Granary of Rome[1]
Béja is located in Tunisia
Béja
Béja
Coordinates: 36°44′N 09°11′E / 36.733°N 9.183°E / 36.733; 9.183Coordinates: 36°44′N 09°11′E / 36.733°N 9.183°E / 36.733; 9.183
Country Tunisia
Governorates Béja Governorate
Government
 • President of special delegation Ahlem Arfaoui
Area
 • Total 13.05 km2 (5.04 sq mi)
Elevation 222 m (728 ft)
Population (2014)
 • Total 109,299
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Website www.commune-beja.gov.tn

Beja (Arabic: باجة‎‎ About this sound Bāja, French: Béja) is a city in Tunisia, Africa. It is the capital of the Béja Governorate. It is located 105 kilometers (65 mi) 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.

History[edit]

Further information: Vaga (Tunisia)

Etymology[edit]

Classical era period[edit]

The city 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, Béja 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 Béja, Béja was the wealthiest warehouse of the kingdom and the center of intense commerce.

The city 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 Béja.

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

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

Béja remains a picturesque city 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.

World War II[edit]

On November 16, 1942 a German military delegation came to Béja to give Mayor Jean Hugon a 24 hour ultimatum to surrender the city. In response to the ultimatum the Mayor informed civil governor, Clement, who in turn sent the message to Algiers. The next day, November 17, the first British parachute battalion landed on the hills north of the city. On Thursday November 19 German planes bombed the town for the first time, as a warning. This broke the long period of peace Béja had known for many centuries. The next day, Friday November 20, Béja was heavily 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 Operation Ochsenkopf – was launched from Mateur and was halted 15 km from Béja, on the night of February 28, 1943, by British troops.

Geographical features[edit]

Located in north-western Tunisia on the White Hill and crossed by the Medjerda River, the features made the city famous for its fertile soil, Béja 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. Béja 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.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Béja
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13.0
(55.4)
14.9
(58.8)
17.9
(64.2)
19.9
(67.8)
22.8
(73)
28.0
(82.4)
33.0
(91.4)
33.1
(91.6)
29.8
(85.6)
25.4
(77.7)
18.5
(65.3)
15.3
(59.5)
22.63
(72.73)
Daily mean °C (°F) 9.3
(48.7)
10.1
(50.2)
12.5
(54.5)
15.6
(60.1)
19.3
(66.7)
24.0
(75.2)
27.3
(81.1)
27.4
(81.3)
24.4
(75.9)
19.2
(66.6)
14.1
(57.4)
10.4
(50.7)
17.8
(64.03)
Average low °C (°F) 5.1
(41.2)
5.3
(41.5)
7.1
(44.8)
8.5
(47.3)
10.9
(51.6)
12.7
(54.9)
15.2
(59.4)
15.4
(59.7)
15.3
(59.5)
12.4
(54.3)
8.4
(47.1)
6.2
(43.2)
10.21
(50.38)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 104
(4.09)
88
(3.46)
64
(2.52)
51
(2.01)
33
(1.3)
15
(0.59)
6
(0.24)
5
(0.2)
34
(1.34)
60
(2.36)
61
(2.4)
105
(4.13)
626
(24.64)
Average precipitation days 13 12 10 11 7 3 1 2 9 9 11 15 103
Source #1: Levoyageur.net[2]
Source #2: WeatherOnline[3]

Administration[edit]

Town hall of the city
Conference room of the city hall

The Béja is the chef-lieu of the Béja Governorate. The city is since July 13, 1887 a municipality, from that day to today there were built 3 town halls, the last one was built in 1933, the building is now a classified monument.

Religion[edit]

The Great Mosque of Béja.
The Bey's Mosque.

Like the rest of Tunisians, most of the Béjeans are Muslims with a small minority of irreligious. In the past there was a small community of Jews and a bigger one of Christians (most of them were European colons), but after the independence of Tunisia from France, all them quit the city to Europe, North America and Israel. The city shelters many religion buildings like mosques, churches and synagogues. The oldest mosque of the town is Great Mosque of Béja which was built in 944 by the Fatimidis on an old Christian basilica, near it there is an other mosque, The Bey's Mosque, which was built in 1675 by Murad II Bey for Hanafi Muslims of the city and in 1685 Mohamed Bey El Mouradi added a Madrasa to the mosque.

The Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire Church.

After the settlement of the French protectorate in Tunisia, many Europeans come to the city to exploit the rich agricultural land, so to satisfy their religious demands the colonial authorities decided a church which was completed in 1883. After the increasing in number of colons in Béja, the church become too small for them, so the authorities decided to demolish it and build instead of it a bigger one, The Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire Church. After the independence of Tunisia and the migration of Christians from the country, the church become a cultural centre in Béja.

Education[edit]

There are 15 elementary schools, 7 preparatory schools, 6 secondary schools and 3 educational institutes in Béja.

Elementary schools[edit]

  • Victor Hugo Elementary School
  • Farhat Hached Elementary School
  • Habib Bourguiba Avenue Elementary School
  • El-Moustakbel Elementary School
  • Sidi Fredj Elementary School
  • El-Mahla Elementary School
  • Ali El-Kalsadi Elementary School
  • Ksar Bardo Elementary School
  • Hay Essoker 1 Elementary School
  • Hay Essoker 2 Elementary School
  • El-Mzara Elementary School
  • Al-Iadhi Al-Béji Elementary School

Preparatory schools[edit]

Higher Institute of Technological Studies of Béja
  • Ali Al-Qalsadi Preparatory School
  • Ibn Al-Jazar Preparatory School
  • Habib Bourguiba Avenue Preparatory School
  • Rached Preparatory School
  • Béja Al*Moustakbel Preparatory School
  • Al-Houria Preparatory School
  • Ibn-Arafa Preparatory School

Secondary schools[edit]

  • Ibn Al-Haytham Secondary School
  • Ibn Al-Jazzar Secondary School
  • March 2, 1934 Secondary School
  • Al-Biaa Secondary School
  • Ali Belhouane Secondary School
  • lycée djeune
Higher Institute of Applied Languages and Computer of Béja

Institutes[edit]

  • Higher Institute of Technological Studies of Béja
  • Higher Institute of Biotechnology of Béja
  • Higher Institute of Applied Languages and Computer of Béja

Historical Places[edit]

Kasbah of Béja : The Kasbah of Béja, is a castle built during the Roman area over the ruins of another Carthaginian castle, the Kasbah was destroyed during the Vandal invasion of Tunisia, it was lately rebuilt by the Byzantine Empire and improved and fortified through the years of the Islamic rule, the Kasbah played a major role in protecting the city from various invasion, it's located on the top of the city.
Béja Bardo Palace : Is an ancient royal residence built by the heir of the Husainid thrown Ali Pecha II in 1734 then it was renovated by Ali Pecha II. The Bardo Palace of Béja is now in ruins.
The Great Mosque of Béja : The Great Mosque of Béja is one of the oldest mosques of the country, built in 944 by the Fatimide Caliph Al-Mansur Billah in 944 on the ruins of an old Roman basilica.
Mosque Al-Jazzar is a very old mosque built by Ahmed Al-Jazzar, a Muslim ascetic, during the Aghlabib era in the 10th century.
The Hanafi Mosque : The Hanafi Mosque is a mosque built in Béja in 1675 by Murad II Bey, it's called the Hanafit mosque because it was dedicated to the Hanafi minority of the city.
Sidi Boutefeha Mausoleum : Sidi Boutefeha Mausoleum is a mausoleum built in the 17th century in memory to the young Sufi Wali Sidi Sulaymeb Al-Tamimi who was known as Boutefeha (The Father of The Appel).
Sidi Baba Ali Smadhi Mausoleum : Sidi Baba Ali Smadhi Mausoleum is mausoleum built 1666 by the Sufi Marabout Ali Smadhi. The Mausoleum played a major role during the Husainid-Pechist civil war, it's also an important cultural and political center of Béja.

Door of the Sidi Baba Ali Smadhi Mausoleum

The Qadiriyya Mausoleum : The Qadiriyya Mausoleum is a mausoleum belonging to the Qadiri Sufi order who was very influential in the city, the mausoleum was built in 1816 by the Sufi poet Miled Jaweni Cherif. The Qadiriyya was also known as the Nakhla Mosque.
The Khadharin Mausoleum : The Khadharin Mausoleum is another Qadiri Sufi order mausoleum built in 1780 by Ahmed Blagui.
Sidi Salah Zlaoui Mausoleum : Sidi Salah Zlaoui Mausoleum is mausoleum built in the 18th century by Salah Ibn Mohamed Zlaoui who was a very famous Sufist in Béja, the mausoleum was transformed by Jilani Zlaoui, one of Sidi Salah great-grandsons, into a mosque.
Hammam Bousandel : Hammam Bousandel, is a public bath built in the 10th century, the bath is still operative till today.
Sabil Saheb Ettabaâ : Sabil Saheb Ettabaâ is a fountain built by Grand Vizier Youssef Saheb Ettabaâ in 1800.

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Exploring and Explaining Diversity in Agricultural Technology by Annelou van Gijn, John Whittaker, Patricia . page 147
  2. ^ (French) Données climatiques annuelles (Levoyageur.net)
  3. ^ (French) Statistiques climatiques de Béja (WeatherOnline)