World Bulletin / News Desk
Binzerte, a Tunusian coastal city where natural beauty combines with the historical and cultural richness of the city has a special place in Ottoman history. Surrounded by Phoenician, Romans and Ottoman heritage, any one who roams around the city will see a little bit history from all over the world, where every streets leads you to the sea.
One of the unique specialities Binzerte has is the natural water channels that were re-opened during the French colonial period linking Binzerte Lake to the Mediterranean.
Founded by the Phoenicians, the city once had strategic importance for imperial powers for centuries. With fertile lands and fishery, Binzerte had become a commercial center. A 12th century traveler by the name of Idrisi described the city with its large mosque, hammams, beautiful gardens and rubble mound structures.
Binzerte is the first part of Tunisia the Ottomans had conquered. The conquest was led by the legendary Ottoman seaman Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1534. Having been used as a military base, the city had a significant role in the Empire's expansion in North Africa. Historian Sesferid Zammari said "Ottomans had come to Binzerte in 1534 with Barbarossa. Due to Binzerte's strategic importance, many states were seeking to get the control of the city. The local people did not react to the Ottomans and even welcomed them. The main reason for having no tension with locals was the overtax of the Hafsi state."
After 1534 Binzerte was controlled by Spain for a few years but in 1557 the Ottoman navy was able to take over the strategic port again. Among many Ottoman legacies left in the city is the castle built by Ulus Ali Reis, which has survived over the centuries on a hill overlooking Binzerte. Heavy weapons exhibited in the yard of the castle represents the war of independence waged against France.
Although Tunisia got its independence in 1956, Binzerte remained to be under French rule mainly because of the city's strategic importance and French military presence there. After increasing pressure, French leaders offered the Tunisian government to pay rent for the city before they left, but this was fiercely refused. A lack of compromise caused clashes after which French troops had to leave.Last Mod: 20 Şubat 2014, 15:20