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Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spainmarker located on the North African side of the Strait of Gibraltarmarker, on the Mediterraneanmarker, which separates it from the Spanish mainland. The area of Ceuta is approximately .

Ceuta is dominated by a hill called Monte Hachomarker, on which there is a fort used by the Spanish army. Monte Hacho is one of the possible locations for the southern of the Pillars of Herculesmarker of Greek legend, the other possibility being Jebel Musamarker.

The city, together with the other autonomous city of Melillamarker and a number of Mediterranean islands, is claimed by Moroccomarker.


Moat of the Royal Wall of Ceuta.
A beach in Ceuta
Ceuta's strategic location has made it the crucial waypoint of many cultures' trade and military ventures ‚ÄĒ beginning with the Carthaginiansmarker in the 5th century BC, who called the city Abyla. It was not until the Romans took control in about A.D. 42 that the port city (then named Septem) assumed an almost exclusive military purpose. Approximately 400 years later, the Vandals ousted the Romans from control, and later it fell to the Visigoths of Hispania and the Byzantines.

In 710, as Muslim armies approached the city, its Byzantine governor Julian, count of Ceuta, (also described as "king of the Ghomara") changed sides and urged them to invade the Iberian Peninsulamarker. Under the leadership of Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad, Ceuta was used as a prime staging ground for an assault on Visigothic Hispania soon after.

After Julian's death the Arabs took direct control of the city; this was resented by the surrounding indigenous Berber tribes, who destroyed it in a Kharijite rebellion led by Maysara al-Haqir in 740. It lay in waste until refounded in the 9th century by Majakas, chief of the Majkasa Berber tribe, who started the short-lived dynasty of the Banu Isam. Under his great-grandson they briefly paid allegiance to the Idrisids. The dynasty finally ended when he abdicated in favour of the Umayyad Caliph of Cordoba Abd ar-Rahman III in 931, so the city returned to the Hispanic Andalusian rule like Melillamarker in 927 and Tangermarker in 951.

Chaos ensued with the fall of the Umayyad caliphate in 1031, but eventually Ceuta, together with the rest of Muslim Spain, was taken over by the Almoravids in 1084. The Almoravids were succeeded by the Almohads who conquered Ceuta in 1147 ruling it, apart from Ibn Hud's rebellion of 1232, until the Hafsids of Tunisia took it in 1242. The Hafsids' influence in the west rapidly waned, and the city expelled them in 1249. After this, it went through a period of political instability during which the city was disputed between the Kingdom of Fez and the Kingdom of Granada.
The City of Ceuta

In 1387, Ceuta was conquered for the last time by the Kingdom of Fez, with Aragonese help.

In 1415, during the Battle of Ceuta, the city was occupied by the Portuguesemarker during the reign of John I of Portugal. After the King of Spain seized the Portuguese throne in 1580, the majority of the population of Ceuta became of Spanish origin. Thus Ceuta became the only city of the Portuguese Empire that sided with Spain when Portugal regained its independence in 1640 and war broke out between the two countries.

The formal allegiance of Ceuta to Spain was recognized by the Treaty of Lisbon by which, on January 1, 1668, King Afonso VI of Portugal formally ceded Ceuta to Carlos II of Spain. However, the originally Portuguese flag and coat of arms of Ceuta remained unchanged and the modern-day Ceuta flag features the configuration of the Portuguese shield. The flag's background is also the same as that of the flag of Lisbonmarker.

When Spain recognized the independence of Spanish Morocco in 1956, Ceuta and the other plazas de soberan√≠a remained under Spanish rule as they were considered integral parts of the Spanish state. Culturally, modern Ceuta is considered part of the Spanish region of Andalusiamarker. Indeed, it was until recently attached to the province of C√°dizmarker ‚ÄĒ the Spanish coast being only 20 km away. It is a cosmopolitan city, with a large ethnic Berber Muslim minority as well as Sephardic Jewish and Hindu minorities.

On November 5, 2007, King Juan Carlos I visited the city, sparking great enthusiasm from the local population and protests from the Moroccan government. It was the first time a Spanish head of state had visited Ceuta in 80 years.


Ceuta is known officially in Spanish as Ciudad Autónoma de Ceuta (lit., Autonomous City of Ceuta), with a rank between a standard Spanish city and an autonomous community. Before the Statute of Autonomy, Ceuta was part of Cádiz provincemarker.

Ceuta is part of the territory of the European Union. The city was a free port before Spain joined the European Union in 1986. Now it has a low-tax system within the European Monetary System. As of 2006, its population was 75,861.

Ceuta does not have an airport. There is, however, a regular helicopter service from Ceuta Heliport linking it to M√°laga Airportmarker. All other access to and from Ceuta is by ferry or land.

Political status

Since 1995, Ceuta is, along with Melilla, one of the two autonomous cities in Spain.

The government of Moroccomarker has repeatedly called for Spain to transfer the sovereignty of Ceuta and Melillamarker, along with uninhabited islets such as the islands of Alhuceima, Velez and the Perejil islet Isla Perejilmarker, drawing comparisons with Spain's territorial claim to Gibraltarmarker. In both cases, the national governments and local populations of the disputed territories reject these claims by a large majority. The Spanish position states that both Ceuta and Melilla are integral parts of the Spanish state, and have been since the 15th century, centuries before than Moroccomarker's independence from Spain in 1956, whereas Gibraltar, being a British Overseas Territory, is not and never has been part of the United Kingdommarker. Morocco denies these claims and maintains that the Spanish presence in Ceuta and the other presidios on its coast is a remnant of the colonial past which should be ended. However, the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories do not consider those Spanish territories to be colonies, whereas it does declare Gibraltar as a non-decolonized territory.

Ceuta is subdivided into 63 barriadas (neighborhoods), such as Barriada de Berizu, Barriada de P. Alfonso, Barriada del Sarchal, and El Hacho.


Ecclesiastical history

By the Concordat of 1851 the Diocese of Ceuta, a suffragan of the Andalusian archbishopric of Seville, was suppressed and incorporated into the Diocese of C√°diz y Ceuta, whose bishop usually was the apostolic administrator of Ceuta. The agreement, however, was not implemented until 1879.


Ceuta City
Location of Ceuta, showing the distance to Spain and Gibraltar.
The official currency of Ceuta is the euro. It is part of a special low tax zone in Spain.

Ceuta is one of two Spanish port cities on the northern shore of Africa, along with Melillamarker. They are historically military strongholds, free ports, oil ports, and also fishing and smuggling centers. Today the economy of the city depends heavily on its port (now in expansion) and its industrial and retail centres. Ceuta Heliport is now used to connect the city to mainland Spain by air.

Along with Melilla, Ceuta is the main link to and from the plazas de soberanía, especially the Islas Chafarinasmarker, occupied by Spain during the 19th century.


The city receives high numbers of ferries each day, most from Spain. Occasionally, cruise ships stop by. Most all dock within a easy walk of downtown shops and restaurants.

Ceuta is a tiny city and the best way to travel may be by bicycle or on foot. There are taxis available. There is a bus service with modern and spacious buses running around the city with stops at the border with Morocco .

International relations

Twin towns ‚ÄĒ Sister cities

Ceuta is twinned with:


  • Parroquia De Santa Maria De Los Remedios
  • Comunidad Israelita De Ceuta
  • Parroquia De San Francisco
  • Santa Iglesia Catedral
  • Parroquia Santa Maria De Africa ‚ÄĒ Casa Parroquial
  • Vicaria General Del Obispado De Ceuta
  • Parroquia Santa Teresa De Jesus De Ceuta


  • Centro de Educaci√≥n Infantil y Primaria Andr√©s Manj√≥n
  • Centro de Educaci√≥n Infantil y Primaria Lope De Vega
  • Centro de Educaci√≥n Infantil Globitos
  • Instituto de Educaci√≥n Secundaria Puertas del Campo
  • Colegio Sta. Mar√≠a Micaela
  • Instituto de Educaci√≥n Secundaria Almina
  • Centro de Educaci√≥n Infantil y Primaria Maestro Jos√© Acosta
  • Colegio Severo Ochoa
  • Centro de Educaci√≥n Infantil y Primaria Santiago Ram√≥n y Cajal

See also


External links

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