Minister of Tourism and Crafts Rene Trabelsi made this Wednesday, March 27, 2019, a working visit to the governorate of Kef, and on this occasion, he decided to proclaim the city of Kef “cultural and historical pole”, indicating that this decision was taken taking into account the cultural richness which this region enjoys.
To do this, the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts will work and take charge of the valuation of Kef’s heritage.
René Trabelsi also called on regional authorities to organize cultural activities to revive this heritage. During his visit to the historic sites of the region, the Minister announced a series of restoration works that will be carried out with the collaboration of the local authorities.
Kef is a city in northwestern Tunisia and the capital of the governorate of the same name. Known first as Sicca in the Carthaginian period then Sicca Veneria in the advent of Roman rule. The city has then borne various names throughout its history: Colonia Julia Cirta, Cirta Nova, Sikka Beneria, Chaqbanariya, and finally Le Kef from the sixteenth century. Many Roman ruins are still present in Kef, to indicate the historical richness of this city.
Located in the north-west of the country, 175 kilometers west of Tunis and about 40 kilometers east of the Tunisian-Algerian border, it has 55,000 inhabitants. The patron saint of Kef is Sidi Bou Makhlouf who gave its name to a mausoleum in the city.
The highest city in Tunisia, at an altitude of 627 meters, its urbanized area reaches 2,500 hectares, 45 of which are located inside the old ramparts of the medina.
The municipality of Kef is spread over the territory of two delegations, Kef East and Kef West, which correspond to the two municipal districts.
Formerly called Colonia Iulia Veneria Cirta Nova Sicca, it is the subject of discussions among historians as a potential location of the capital of Numidia evoked by Sallust in his Bellum Jugurthinum. The other hypothesis being the city of Constantine in Algeria. This controversy is known as the Cirta problem.
In 688, the city experienced the first raid of Arab armies. In 1600, a first fort was built to house from 1637 a permanent garrison, the device is completed by fortified walls built by Ali Ier Pacha around 1739-1740. However, this does not prevent the capture and looting of the city by the Algerians in 1756 or the French military occupation from 1881. By the decree Beylical of July 8, 1884, Le Kef is erected in the municipality, one first of the country. In 1973, the city hosts a summit between the Tunisian presidents Habib Bourguiba and Algerian Houari Boumediene, the latter proposes the formation of a Tunisian-Algerian union that Bourguiba declines in promoting the development of economic cooperation between the two countries.
- IslamKef shelters a number of Muslim religious buildings, because of its role as the center of an important Sufi movement. Symbol of this current, the mausoleum Sidi Bou Makhlouf houses the tomb of the founder of the brotherhood of Aïssawa in Tunisia, Sidi Bou Makhlouf. The El Qadriya Mosque is another important building.
The Jama el Kebir mosque, dedicated to Sidi Aïssa, built in the twentieth century on the site of a basilica of the fourth century, serves as a setting for the Bou Makhlouf Festival.
The city is home to the mausoleum of Ali Turki, the father of Hussein I Bey, founder of the dynasty that reigns over Tunisia between 1705 and 1957.
- Judaism: A legacy of the ancient local Jewish community, the Ghriba synagogue is highly revered for the Jews of the region who went there on pilgrimage each year during the Sukkot holiday.
- Catholicism: In addition, the remains, fairly well-preserved, of a Roman basilica with three naves dating from the early fifth century called Dar El Kous, dedicated to St. Peter, were found.
- Museums: The museum of arts and popular traditions of Kef, sheltered by a mausoleum built in the eighteenth century, presents collections retracing the habits and social customs prevailing before the independence of the country.
- Music: The city of Kef is known for its rich cultural heritage and stands out particularly in music and folk songs. It is in this context that the Bou Makhlouf Festival is organized every year, in July, and the Saliha Festival, once every two years; the latter takes its name from the singer Saliha from the region.
- Celebration: The Mayou feast, also known as the Borzgane festival, brings up to date the traditional Kef couscous. Only the city continues to perpetuate this tradition with respect to an ancient ritual.
- Performing Arts: Headquarters of the National Center of Dramatic Arts and Scenic Kef, the city also organizes the festival “24 hours of non-stop theater”.
- Gastronomy: The gastronomy of Kef is differentiated by two preparations specific to the region. On the one hand, a typical local bread, the Mjamaa or Khobz el Aid, is prepared during the festive period, topped with an egg, and decorated with dough. On the other hand, the Borzgane is a type of couscous slightly sweet because of alternating layers of dried fruits, dates, and lamb meat.
Bourg-en-Bresse (France) since 1993, officially signed in 1999 and 2000 with the signing of a protocol of exchange and friendship.
Main activities to discover in Kef
- Kasbah of Kef is a fortification in the Kef city. The kasbah was constructed in 1600 during the Ottoman rule of the local tribes and borders, as one of the many forts established for the monitoring of the local area. It played a major role in the defense of the city as well as administration which was conducted from the fort.
- WATER TEMPLE is a vast thermal complex of the High Roman Empire that contained more than 5,000 m3 of water. The temple is located at the foot of the primitive rock of Al Kasbah.
- The Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions of Kef is a Tunisian ethnographic museum located in the city of Kef. It occupies part of the buildings of the old zaouïa of the Muslim brotherhood of Rahmaniya. Its educational objective is to expose visitors to the conditions of view of the townspeople and nomads of the region from objects of everyday life.
- The table of Jughorta is a mountain located in the governorate of Kef, on the territory of the municipality of Kalaat Senan, which has been used since antiquity as a fortress of natural defense.
- The megaliths of Elles represent a North African variant of megalithic constructions, which emerged around 2500 BC. AD.
- The ancient church is known as Dar El Kous
- Dam of Oued Mellegue
- Roman cisterns