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
|Nickname(s): The Granary of Rome|
|Coordinates: 36°44′N 09°11′E / 36.733°N 9.183°ECoordinates: 36°44′N 09°11′E / 36.733°N 9.183°E|
|• President of special delegation||Ahlem Arfaoui|
|• Total||13.05 km2 (5.04 sq mi)|
|Elevation||222 m (728 ft)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Beja (Arabic: باجة 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.
Classical era period
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.
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
On November 16, 1942 a German military delegation came to Béja to give Mayor Jean Hugon a 24 hours ultimatum to surrender the city. As a reaction to the ultimatum the latter informed 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 city. 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 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 Operation Ochsenkopf – was launched from Mateur and was halted 15 km from Béja, on the night of February 28, 1943 by British troops.
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 data for Béja|
|Average high °C (°F)|| 13.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)|| 9.3
|Average low °C (°F)|| 5.1
|Average precipitation mm (inches)|| 104
|Average precipitation days||13||12||10||11||7||3||1||2||9||9||11||15||103|
|Source #1: Levoyageur.net|
|Source #2: WeatherOnline|
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.
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.
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.
There are 15 elementary schools, 7 preparatory schools, 6 secondary schools and 3 educational institutes in Béja.
- 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
- 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
- Ibn Al-Haytham Secondary School
- Ibn Al-Jazzar Secondary School
- March 2, 1934 Secondary School
- Al-Biaa Secondary School
- Ali Belhouane Secondary School
- Omar Kalchani Secondary School
- Higher Institute of Technological Studies of Béja
- Higher Institute of Biotechnology of Béja
- Higher Institute of Applied Languages and Computer of Béja
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.
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.
- Mohamed Arbi Zarrouk Khaznadar – 4th Grand Vizir of Tunisia from 1815 to 1822 (born in Le Bardo but his family is from Béja)
- Ismaïl Fathali – Tunisian Army Chief of Staff
- Wassila Ben Ammar – 2sd Tunisian First Lady from 1962 to 1986
- Ammar Farhat – Famous Tunisian painter
- Slaheddine Ben Mbarek – Former Tunisian minister of National Economy, Commerce, Industry and Agriculture
- Guy Bono – Former French MEP from The Socialist Party
- Neji Jouini – Former football referee
- Mohamed Ali Yousfi – Writer and translator
- Maurice Audin – Mathematician, member of the Algerian Communist Party and an activist in the anticolonialist cause
- Rafiq Belhaj Kacem – Former minister of the Interior
- Afouène Gharbi – Footballer
- Sofiane Labidi – Sprinter
- Moïne Chaâbani – Footballer
- Mohamed Sayari – Famous Tunisian actor and theatre director
- Chaker Zouagi – Footballer
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Béja.|
- (French) Site officiel de la municipalité de Béja
- (French) 250 cartes postales anciennes de Béja (1900–1950)