Ceuta (assimilated pronunciation /ˈsjuːtə/ SEW-tə; also
/ˈseɪʊtə/ SAY-uu-tə; Spanish: [ˈθeuta]; Berber
language: Sebta; Arabic: سبتة) is an 18.5-square-kilometre
(7.1 sq mi) Spanish autonomous city on the north coast of
Africa, separated by 14 kilometres from
Cadiz province on the Spanish
mainland by the
Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar and sharing a 6.4 kilometre land
M'diq-Fnideq Prefecture in the Kingdom of Morocco. It lies
along the boundary between the
Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic
Ocean and is one of nine populated Spanish territories in
along with Melilla, one of two populated territories on mainland
Africa. It was part of
Cádiz province until 14 March 1995 when both
Ceuta and Melilla's Statutes of Autonomy were passed, the latter
having been part of
Melilla and the Canary Islands, was a free port before
Spain joined the European Union. As of 2011, it has a population of
82,376. Its population consists of Christians, Muslims and small
Sephardic Jews and ethnic Sindhi Hindus.
Spanish is the official language, while Darija Arabic is also spoken
by 40–50% of the population, which is of Moroccan origin.
1.1 15th to 16th century
1.2 17th to 19th century
1.3 20th to 21st century
1.4 Ecclesiastical history
3.2 Dispute with Morocco
7 Notable people from Ceuta
7.1 1083 to 1700
7.2 1700 to 1800
7.3 1800 to 1950
7.4 1950 to date
8 Twin towns and sister cities
9 See also
12 External links
Phoenician archeological site, dated in the 7th century BC, next to
the Cathedral of Ceuta
Ceuta's location has made it an important commercial trade and
military way-point for many cultures, beginning with the Carthaginians
in the 5th century BC, who called the city Abyla; initially, this was
also its name in Greek and Latin. It was known variously in Ancient
Greek as: Ἀβύλη, Ἀβύλα, Ἀβλύξ, or Ἀβίλη
στήλη (Abyle-Latn, Abila-Latn, Ablyx or Abile Stele, "Pillar of
Abyle") and in the Latin derivation from Greek as
Columna ("Mount Abyla" or "Column of Abyla"). Together with Gibraltar
on the European side, it formed one of the famous "Pillars of
Hercules". Later, it was renamed for a formation of seven
surrounding smaller mountains, collectively referred to as Septem
Fratres ('[The] Seven Brothers') by Pomponius Mela, which lent their
name to a Roman fortification known as Castellum ad Septem Fratres.
It changed hands again approximately 400 years later, when Vandal
tribes ousted the Romans. After being controlled by
the Visigoths, it then became an outpost of the Byzantine Empire.
Ceuta was an important
Christian center since the fourth century (as
recent discovered ruins of a Roman basilica show).
In the 7th century the Umayyads tried to conquer the region but were
unsuccessful. Byzantine governor, Julian (described as King of the
Ghomara) who was a vassal of the Visigothic kings of Iberia changed
his allegiance after the king
Roderic raped his daughter, and exhorted
the Muslims to invade the Iberian Peninsula. Under the leadership of
the Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslims used
Ceuta as a
staging ground for an assault on Visigothic Iberian Peninsula. After
Julian's death, the
Berbers took direct control of the city, which the
indigenous Berber tribes resented. They destroyed
Ceuta during the
Kharijite rebellion led by
Maysara al-Matghari in 740.
Arab Baths of Ceuta, built between the 11th and 13th centuries.
Ceuta lay in ruins until it was resettled in the 9th century by
Mâjakas, chief of the Majkasa Berber tribe, who started the
Banu Isam dynasty. His great-grandson briefly allied
his tribe with the Idrisids, but the
Banu Isam rule ended in 931 when
he abdicated in favor of Abd ar-Rahman III, the
Umayyad Caliph of
Ceuta reverted to
Moorish Andalusian rule in 927 along with
Melilla, and later Tangier, in 951.
Marinid Walls of Ceuta
Marinid Walls of Ceuta built by
Abu Sa'id Uthman II
Abu Sa'id Uthman II in 1328
Chaos ensued with the fall of the
Umayyad caliphate in 1031. Following
Ceuta and the rest of
Muslim Iberia were controlled by successive
North African dynasties. Starting in 1084, the
the region until 1147, when the Almohads conquered the land. Apart
from Ibn Hud's rebellion of 1232, they ruled until the Tunisian
Hafsids established control. The Hafsids' influence in the west
rapidly waned, and Ceuta's inhabitants eventually expelled them in
1249. After this, a period of political instability persisted, under
competing interests from the
Kingdom of Fez
Kingdom of Fez and the Kingdom of
Kingdom of Fez
Kingdom of Fez finally conquered the region in 1387, with
assistance from the Crown of Aragon.
15th to 16th century
Henry the Navigator
Henry the Navigator during the Conquest of Ceuta
On the morning of 21 August 1415, king
John I of Portugal
John I of Portugal led his sons
and their assembled forces in a surprise assault that would come to be
known as the Conquest of Ceuta. The battle was almost anti-climactic,
because the 45,000 men who traveled on 200 Portuguese ships caught the
Ceuta off guard and only suffered eight casualties. By
nightfall the town was captured. On the morning of August 22, Ceuta
was in Portuguese hands. Álvaro Vaz de Almada, 1st Count of Avranches
was asked to hoist what was to become the flag of Ceuta, which is
identical to the flag of Lisbon, but in which the coat of arms of the
Kingdom of Portugal
Kingdom of Portugal was added to the center, the original Portuguese
flag and coat of arms of
Ceuta remained unchanged, and the modern-day
Ceuta flag features the configuration of the Portuguese shield.
Henry the Navigator
Henry the Navigator Statue in
Henry the Navigator
Henry the Navigator distinguished himself in the battle,
being wounded during the conquest. The looting of the city proved to
be less profitable than expected for John I; he decided to keep the
city to pursue further enterprises in the area.
From 1415 to 1437
Pedro de Meneses, 1st Count of Vila Real
Pedro de Meneses, 1st Count of Vila Real became the
first governor of Ceuta.
The Benemerine sultan started the
Siege of Ceuta (1418) but was
defeated by the first governor of
Ceuta before reinforcements arrived
in the form of
John, Constable of Portugal
John, Constable of Portugal and his brother Henry the
Navigator who were sent with troops to defend Ceuta.
Under King John I of Portugals son, Duarte, the colony at Ceuta
rapidly became a drain on the Portuguese treasury. Trans-Saharan trade
journeyed instead to Tangier. It was soon realised that without the
city of Tangier, possession of
Ceuta was worthless. In 1437, Duarte's
Henry the Navigator
Henry the Navigator and
Fernando, the Saint Prince
Fernando, the Saint Prince persuaded
him to launch an attack on the
Marinid sultanate. The resulting Battle
Tangier (1437), led by Henry, was a debacle. In the resulting
treaty, Henry promised to deliver
Ceuta back to the Marinids in return
for allowing the Portuguese army to depart unmolested, which he
1572 depiction of Ceuta
Ceuta would indirectly lead to further Portuguese
expansion. The main area of Portuguese expansion, at this time, was
the coast of Magreb, where there was grain, cattle, sugar, and
textiles, as well as fish, hides, wax, and honey.
Ceuta had to endure alone for 43 years, until the position of the city
was consolidated with the taking of
Ksar es-Seghir (1458),
Tangier (1471) by the Portuguese.
The city was recognized as a Portuguese possession by the Treaty of
Alcáçovas (1479) and by the
Treaty of Tordesilhas
Treaty of Tordesilhas (1494).
In the 1540s the Portuguese began building the
Royal Walls of Ceuta
Royal Walls of Ceuta as
they are today including bastions, a navigable moat and a drawbridge.
Some of these bastions are still standing, like the bastions of Coraza
Alta, Bandera and Mallorquines.
The Royal Walls of Ceuta, built from 962 to the 18th century, and
Luís de Camões
Luís de Camões lived in
Ceuta between 1549 and 1551, losing his
right eye in battle, which influenced his work of poetry Os Lusíadas.
In 1578 king
Sebastian of Portugal
Sebastian of Portugal died at the Battle of Alcácer
Quibir (known as the Battle of Three Kings) in what is today northern
Morocco, without descendants, triggering the 1580 Portuguese
succession crisis. His granduncle, the elderly Cardinal Henry,
succeeded him as King, but Henry also had no descendants, having taken
holy orders. When the Cardinal-King died two years after Sebastian's
disappearance, three grandchildren of king Manuel I of Portugal
claimed the throne: Infanta Catarina, Duchess of Braganza, António,
Prior of Crato, and Philip II of
Spain (Uncle of former King Sebastian
of Portugal), who would go on to be crowned king Philip I of Portugal
in 1581, uniting the two crowns and overseas empires known as the
Iberian Union., which allowed the two kingdoms to continue without
17th to 19th century
Iberian Union 1580 to 1640,
Ceuta attracted many residents
of Spanish origin.
Ceuta became the only city of the Portuguese
Empire that sided with
Portugal regained its independence
Portuguese Restoration War of 1640.
On 1 January 1668 by the Treaty of Lisbon, King Afonso VI of Portugal
recognized the formal allegiance of
Spain and formally ceded
Ceuta to King Carlos II of Spain.
The city was attacked by Moroccan forces under
Moulay Ismail during
the Siege of
Ceuta (1694-1727). During the longest siege in the
history, the city underwent changes leading to the loss of its
Portuguese character. While most of the military operations took place
around the Royal Walls of Ceuta, there were also small-scale
penetrations by Spanish forces at various points on the Moroccan
coast, and seizure of shipping in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Fort of the Desnarigado, built in the 19th century. It houses a
Disagreements regarding the border of
Ceuta resulted in the
Hispano-Moroccan War (1859–60), which ended at the Battle of
20th to 21st century
A street in Ceuta, c. 1905–1910
In July 1936, General
Francisco Franco took command of the Spanish
Africa and rebelled against the Spanish republican government;
his military uprising led to the
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939.
Franco transported troops to mainland
Spain in an airlift using
transport aircraft supplied by Germany and Italy.
Ceuta became one of
the first casualties of the uprising: General Franco's rebel
nationalist forces seized Ceuta, while at the same time the city came
under fire from the air and sea forces of the official republican
The Llano Amarillo monument was erected to honor Francisco Franco, it
was inaugurated on 13 July 1940. The tall obelisk has since been
abandoned, but the shield symbols of the
Falange and Imperial Eagle
Bastion of la Coraza Alta on the shore of the Playa del Chorrillo
Spain recognized the independence of Spanish
Morocco in 1956,
Ceuta and the other plazas de soberanía remained under Spanish rule.
Spain considered them integral parts of the Spanish state, but Morocco
has disputed this point.
Ceuta is part of the Spanish region of Andalusia.
It was attached to the province of
Cádiz until 1925, the Spanish
coast being only 20 km (12.5 miles) away. It is a cosmopolitan
city, with a large ethnic Arab
Muslim minority as well as Sephardic
On 5 November 2007, King
Juan Carlos I
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
Ceuta in 80 years.
Ceuta (and Melilla) have declared the
Muslim holiday of
Eid al-Adha or Feast of the Sacrifice, as an official public holiday.
It is the first time a non-
Christian religious festival has been
officially celebrated in
Spain since the Reconquista.
Diocese of Ceuta existed from 1417 to 1879. It was a
suffragan of the
Patriarchate of Lisbon
Patriarchate of Lisbon until 1675 and the end of the
Iberian Union, when
Ceuta chose to remain linked to the king of Spain.
Since then it has been a suffragan of the archbishopric of
Diocese of Tanger
Diocese of Tanger was suppressed and incorporated to
Ceuta in 1570.
In 1851, upon the signature of the concordat between the
Holy See and
Spain, the diocese of
Ceuta was agreed to be suppressed, being
combined into the Diocese of
Cádiz y Ceuta. Until then in the
Cádiz y Algeciras, the bishop was usually the apostolic
administrator of Ceuta. The agreement was not implemented until 1879.
Ceuta (Perejil islet is just off the coast, in the upper left
of this map)
Perspective view of the
Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar facing eastwards; Spain
Gibraltar on the left;
Ceuta on the right
Ceuta is dominated by Monte Anyera, a hill along its western frontier
with Morocco. The mountain is guarded by a military fort.
Monte Hacho on the
Peninsula of Almina
Peninsula of Almina overlooking the port is one of
the possible locations for the southern pillar of the Pillars of
Hercules of Greek legend (the other possibility being Jebel Musa).
Ceuta has a maritime-influenced Subtropical/Mediterranean climate,
similar to nearby Spanish and Moroccan cities such as Tarifa,
Algeciras or Tangiers. The average diurnal temperature variation
is relatively low; the average annual temperature is 18.8 °C
(65.8 °F) with average yearly highs of 21.4 °C
(70.5 °F) and lows of 15.7 °C (60.3 °F) though the
Ceuta weather station has only been in operation since 2003. Ceuta
has relatively mild winters for the latitude, while summers are warm
yet milder than in the interior of Southern Spain, due to the
moderating effect of the Straits of Gibraltar. Summers are very dry,
but yearly precipitation is still at 849 millimetres
(33.4 in), which could be considered a humid climate if the
summers were not so arid.
Climate data for
Ceuta city (1m altitude)
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days
Average relative humidity (%)
Source: Weather.com, WorldWeatherOnline, and Agencia
Estatal de Meteorología
The Palacio de la Asamblea de
Ceuta is the seat of the Assembly of
Ceuta is, along with Melilla, one of the two autonomous
cities of Spain.
Ceuta is known officially in Spanish as Ciudad Autónoma de Ceuta
(English: Autonomous City of Ceuta), with a rank between a standard
Spanish city and an autonomous community.
Ceuta is part of the
territory of the European Union. The city was a free port before Spain
European Union in 1986. Now it has a low-tax system within
the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union. As of 2006, its
population was 75,861.
Ceuta has held elections every four years since 1979, for its 25-seat
assembly. The leader of its government was the Mayor until the
Autonomy Statute had the title changed to the Mayor-President. As of
2011[update], the People's Party (PP) won 18 seats, keeping Juan
Jesús Vivas as Mayor-President, which he has been since 2001. The
remaining seats are held by the regionalist
Caballas Coalition (4) and
the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE, 3).
Due to its small population,
Ceuta elects only one member of the
Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish legislature. As
of 2011[update] election, this post is held by Francisco Márquez de
la Rubia of the PP.
Ceuta is subdivided into 63 barriadas (neighbourhoods), such as
Barriada de Berizu, Barriada de P. Alfonso, Barriada del Sarchal, and
Dispute with Morocco
The government of
Morocco has repeatedly called for
Spain to transfer
the sovereignty of
Ceuta and Melilla, together with the rest of the
Spanish plazas de soberanía on the North African coast, on the
grounds of asserting its territorial integrity.
Morocco has claimed
the territories are colonies.
The Moroccan mountain of Jebel Musa, as viewed from Benzú
A sign welcoming visitors to Ceuta, showing the flags of Ceuta, Spain
and the European Union
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 Melilla. They are
historically military strongholds, free ports, oil ports, and also
fishing ports. 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
Decathlon Group and
El Corte Inglés
El Corte Inglés (hardware) have
branches in Ceuta. There is also a casino.
The city receives high numbers of ferries each day from
Andalusia in the south of Spain, along with
Melilla and the Canary
Islands. The closest airport is
Sania Ramel Airport
Sania Ramel Airport in Morocco. There
is a bus service throughout the city which does not pass into
A single road border checkpoint allows for cars to travel between
Morocco and Ceuta. The rest of the border is closed and inaccessible.
Due to its location,
Ceuta is home to a mixed ethnic and religious
population. The two main religious groups are Christians and Muslims.
As of 2006 approximately 50% of the population was Spanish/Christian
and approximately 49% Arab-Berber/Muslims. As of 2012, the portion
of Ceuta's population that identify as
Roman Catholic was 68.0%, while
the portion of Ceuta's population that identify as
Spanish is the primary and official language of the enclave.
Moroccan Arabic is widely spkoen, as are Berber and French.
Remains of the Late Roman
Christian Basilica and Necropolis of Ceuta
dated to the mid-4th century AC or the beginning of the 5th century
Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, completed in 1726.
Christianity has been present in
Ceuta (called in Roman times
Septem or Septum) continuously since the fall of the Western
Roman Empire. The ruins of a basilica in downtown
Ceuta confirm this
Muley El Mehdi mosque (built in 1940)
In 1415, on conquering the city from the Muslims, the Portuguese
started the construction of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the
Diocese of Ceuta was established two
years later, and in 1851 was merged into the
Roman Catholic Diocese of
Cadiz y Ceuta. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th
century, combines baroque and neoclassical elements.
The University of Granada offers undergraduate programs at their
campus in Ceuta. Like all areas of Spain,
Ceuta is also served by the
National University of Distance Education (UNED).
Primary and secondary education is possible only in Spanish however a
growing number of schools are entering the Bilingual Education
Ceuta border fence
As in Melilla,
Ceuta is attractive to migrants who try to use it as an
entry to Europe. As a result the enclave is surrounded by double
fences that are 6 meters high and hundreds of migrants congregate near
the fences waiting for a chance to cross them. The fences are
regularly stormed by migrants trying to claim asylum once they enter
Notable people from Ceuta
Eclectic House of the Dragons, built in 1905.
1083 to 1700
Qadi Ayyad (1083 in
Ceuta – 1149) born in Ceuta, then belonging to
Almoravids was the great imam of that city
Al-Idrisi (1100 in
Ceuta – 1165 in Ceuta) was an Arab Muslim
geographer, cartographer and Egyptologist. He lived in
Palermo at the
court of King Roger II of Sicily, known for the "Tabula Rogeriana"
Abu al-Abbas as-Sabti (
Ceuta 1129 -
Marrakesh 1204) is the patron
saint of Marrakesh
Joseph ben Judah of Ceuta (c. 1160–1226) was a Jewish physician and
poet, and disciple of Moses Maimonides
Abu al-Abbas al-Azafi
Abu al-Abbas al-Azafi (1162 in
Ceuta – 1236) a religious and legal
scholar, member of the Banu al-Azafi who ruled Ceuta
Mohammed ibn Rushayd
Mohammed ibn Rushayd (1259 in Sabta – 1321) was a judge, writer and
scholar of Hadith
Alvaro of Braganza ( 1440 - 1504) was a president of Council of
1700 to 1800
Fernando de Leyba (1734 in
Ceuta - 1780) was a Spanish officer who
served as the third governor of
Upper Louisiana from 1778 until his
Francisco Antonio García Carrasco
Francisco Antonio García Carrasco Díaz (1742 in
Ceuta – 1813 in Lima, Peru ) was a Spanish soldier and Royal
Governor of Chile
Sebastián Kindelán y O'Regan
Sebastián Kindelán y O'Regan (1757 in
Ceuta – 1826 Santiago de
Cuba) was a colonel in the Spanish Army who served as governor of East
Florida 1812/1815, of Santo Domingo 1818/1821 and was provisional
governor of Cuba 1822/1823
Isidro de Alaix Fábregas
Isidro de Alaix Fábregas Count of Vergara and Viscount of
Villarrobledo, (1790 in
Ceuta – 1853 in Madrid) was a Spanish
general of the
First Carlist War
First Carlist War who backed Isabella II of Spain
1800 to 1950
Francisco Llano de la Encomienda
Francisco Llano de la Encomienda (1879 in
Ceuta – 1963 in
Mexico City) was a Spanish soldier. During the Spanish Civil War
(1936–39) he remained loyal to the Second Spanish Republic
Antonio Escobar Huertas (1879 in
Ceuta – executed 1940 in
Barcelona) was a Spanish military officer
África de las Heras Gavilán (Ceuta, 1909 – Moscow, 1988) was a
Spanish Communist, naturalized Soviet citizen, and
KGB spy who went by
the code name Patria
Eugenio Martín (born 1925 in Ceuta) is a Spanish film director and
Jacob Hassan, PhD (1936 in
Ceuta – 2006 in Madrid) was a
José Martínez Sánchez (born 1945 in Ceuta), nicknamed Pirri, is a
retired Spanish footballer, mainly played for Real Madrid, appearing
in 561 competitive games and scoring 172 goals
Manuel Chaves González
Manuel Chaves González (born 1945 in Ceuta) is a Spanish politician
of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party. He served as the Third Vice
President of the Spanish Government from 2009 to 2011
Ramón Castellano de Torres (born 1947 in Ceuta) is a Spanish artist,
thought by some to be an expressionist painter
José Ramón López (1950) was a sprint canoer. He won the silver
medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics.
1950 to date
Miguel Bernardo Bianquetti (born 1951 in Ceuta), known as
Migueli is a
* Spanish retired footballer who played central defender.
Francisco Lesmes and
Rafael Lesmes Bobed brothers and Spanish
Ignacio Velázquez Rivera (born 1953), first
Juan Jesús Vivas
Juan Jesús Vivas Lara (
Ceuta 1953) became the
Spain in 2001
Pedro Aviles Gutiérrez (Ceuta, 1956) is a Spanish novelist from
Nayim (Ceuta, 1966) is a retired Spanish footballer; he scored a
last-minute goal for Real
Zaragoza in the 1995 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
Eva María Isanta Foncuberta (born 1971 in Ceuta) is a Spanish actress
Mohamed Taieb Ahmed (1975, Ceuta) is a Spanish-Moroccan drug lord 
responsible for trafficking hashish across the
Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar and
Lorena Miranda (Ceuta, 1991) is a Spanish female water polo player.
She won the silver medal in Water polo at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Twin towns and sister cities
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See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Spain
Ceuta is twinned with:
Aci Catena, Italy
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Malacca City, Malacca, Malaysia
Monte Carlo, Monaco
AD Ceuta, former football club
Arab Baths in Ceuta
Hotel Tryp Ceuta
Ceuta border fence
Plazas de soberanía – Spanish exclaves on the Moroccan coast
Porteadoras – mule ladies, bale workers
Royal Walls of Ceuta
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los Diputados (in Spanish). 2011-01-12. Archived from the original on
^ "El servicio de Policia de Barriadas podria funcionar a partir del
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September 15]. El Pueblo de
Ceuta (in Spanish). Archived from the
original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
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