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Tabarka is located in Tunisia
Location in Tunisia
Coordinates: 36°57′16″N 8°45′29″E / 36.95444°N 8.75806°E / 36.95444; 8.75806
Country Flag of Tunisia.svg Tunisia
Governorate Jendouba Governorate
Population (2004)
 - Total 15, 634
Time zone CET (UTC1)

Tabarka (Arabic: طبرقة‎ , Phoenician Tabarka , Thabarka or Barga by locals) is a coastal town located in north-western Tunisia, at about 36°57′16″N 8°45′29″E / 36.95444°N 8.75806°E / 36.95444; 8.75806, close to the border with Algeria. It has been famous for its coral fishing, the Coral Festival of underwater photography and the annual jazz festival. Tabarka's history is a colorful mosaic of Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Turkish civilizations. The town is dominated by an offshore rock on which is built a Genoese castle. Nationalist leader Habib Bourguiba, later to become president of post-independence Tunisia, was exiled here by the French colonial authorities in 1952.


Tarbarka island, 17th century.

Thabraca was the last Numidian city in the direction of the Zeugitana and was a Roman colony. It was connected by a road with Simitthu, to which it served as a port for the exportation of its famous marbles. At Thabraca Gildo, the brother of Firmus, committed suicide. Under the Vandal king Gaiseric it had a monastery for men and one for women.

Facing it, at a distance of about 365 yards, is the small island of Tabarka, where the Genoese family of the Lomellini, who had purchased the grant of the coral fishing from the Ottoman Turks, maintained a garrison from 1540 to 1742. Here may still be seen the ruins of a stronghold, a church and some Genoese buildings. At Tabarka the ruins consist of a pit once used as a church and some fragments of walls which belonged to Christian buildings. There were also two Ottoman Turkish fortresses, one of which has been repaired.

In 1741 it was surrendered to the (nominally Ottoman, de facto autonomus) Bey of Tunis. Part of the population was moved to the Sardinian island of San Pietro and the town of Calasetta on the adjacent Island of Sant'Antioco, whose population still speaks a variant of Genoese dialect originating from Tabarka.

Under French colonial rule it was annexed to the civil district of Souk el-Arba, now in the Tunisian governorate of Jendouba, and a rather important fishing centre.

Ecclesiastical history

Tabarka castle

Thabraca still is the (Latin) name of a Roman Catholic titular see of the former Roman province of Numidia near the Mediterranean, between the Armua and the Tusca.

The city contains several Christian cemeteries, many of the tombs having covers adorned with curious mosaics. An inscription (C.I.L., VIII, 173-82) mentions the cult of the martyr Anastasia and her companions.

The bishops of Thabraca, who met with those of the African proconsulate, were: Victoricus, at the Council of Carthage (256); Rusticianus, at the conference of Carthage in 411, where his competitor was the Donatist Charentius, and signed in 416 the letter from the council of Proconsular Africa to Pope Innocent I; Clarissimus, who in 646 signed the letter from the same Council to Patriarch Paul of Constantinople against the Monothelites.

Sources and external links

A view from Tabarka port.

This article incorporates text from the entry Thabraca in the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.



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