Beja (Arabic: باجة, French: Béja, ) is a toun in Tunisie, Africae. It is the caipital o the Béja Govrenorate. It is locatit 105 km (saxty miles) frae Tunis, atween the Medjerdah River an the Mediterranean, against the fuithills o the Khroumire, the toun o Beja is situatit on the sides o Djebel Acheb, facin the greenin meadows, its white terraces an red ruifs dominatit bi the imposin ruins o the auld Roman fortress.
Famous for its fertile soil, Beja drew aw the maisters o the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians set up important tradin 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.
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 Badja 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.
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.
Warld War II
On November 16, 1942 a German military delegation came tae the toun tae give the Mayor Jean Hugon a 24 oors ultimatum tae surrender the toun. As a reaction tae the ultimatum the latter informed the ceevil govrenor Mr Clement who in turn sent the message tae Algiers. The next day, November 17 the first parachutit Breetish battalion landit on the hills north o the toun. Thursday November 19 German planes bombed the toun for the first time, as a warnin. This broke the lang period o peace Beja haed kent for mony centuries. The next day, Friday November 20, Beja wis furiously bombed bi German airplanes for mony oors, acause o its key position leadin tae the roads o Tabarka, Mateur, Bizerte an Algerie. The toun became the stage for ferocious battles atween the Germans an the Allies who fiercely defendit it, at the expense o severe military an ceevil losses. The final German assault wis launched frae Mateur an wis haltit 15 km frae Béja, on the nicht o 28 Februar 1943.
- (French) Site officiel de la municipalité de Béja
- (French) 250 cartes postales anciennes de Béja (1900-1950)