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Beja Tourism Overview

About Beja

his city is the capital of the Baixa Alentejo District and maintains attractive visible evidence of its historic background. It is recorded as existing in 48 AC after the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar gave it the name of Pax Julia and declared it as a regional capital. However, there is evidence that the location was inhabited since the Bronze Age. The Town Square was originally the site of its Roman Forum. The Moors renamed the town when they occupied it, and but for a brief time in 715, they were firmly entrenched from 711 to 1162. In this later year the Kings forces led by Fernão Gonçalves drove out the Moors who later in 1165 were also driven out of the neighbouring fortified town of Serpa. During the War of Independence between Spain and Portugal (1640-1667), Beja played its part more than once in being successfully attacked and occupied by the both sides of the conflict. In more recent times the French sacked the city and massacred the inhabitants during the year 1808. In 1962 the now venerated General António Delgado led an army uprising that was destined to quickly fail against the strength of the Salazar regime. The city with about 22.000 population has a number of ancient buildings and the name Beja as used today was given to it by the occupying Moors in the 6th Century. The Convento da Nossa Senhora da Conceição dating from 1459 is both visually interesting and enjoys international fame from the 1669 French publication of the celebrated “Lettres Portugaises”. These were five lyric love letters by a 26 year-old nun named Mariana Alcoforado to her lover the Comte de Saint-Léger after he deserted her. The Convent is an architectural mixture of Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, with Hispanic-Arab tiles. It also houses the Museu Regional da Rainha Dona Leonor. This museum contains many items that reflect the various cultures that have influenced the region since Pre-Historic times. These take the form of ceramics, glass, bronze, iron, coins, mosaics, sculptures, carvings and art. The 13th Century Capela dos Tumulos do Convento de São Francisco is attached to the building that has been rebuilt as a Pousada. As you approach the City you can not fail to notice the 13th Century Torre de Menagem, the keep of the original castle built by Dom Dinis. The impressive tower stands 36 metres high and has an interior staircase of 183 steps that may be climbed. Adjoining the castle walls the Igreja de Santo André dates back to the 4th Century and is one of the few standing Visigoth churches in Portugal. It also acts as a museum for this little know about period. A specialty of the town is the “Pão de Rala” bread-cake made with pumpkin


Dialling Code :

351

Area :

1,147.1 km²

Population :

35,854 inhabitants

Religion : Beja worshiped Isis at Philae. Beja converted to Christianity in the 6th century under the influence of the three Nubian Christian Kingdoms that flourished along the Nile for 600 year. the Beja accepted Islam as the Bedouin tribes spread into Sudan and swamped the Nubian kingdoms. the majority of Beja are believed to be Muslim. Nevertheless, many Coptic Upper Egyptians of Saiddi and Beja stock are still Christians. There are many Sufi Bejas especially in Egypt's Western Desert.