Ceuta's strategic location on the northernmost tip of Morocco (on the Strait of Gibraltar) has made it the crucial waypoint of many a culture's trade and military ventures--beginning with the ancient Carthaginians in the 5th century B.C. It wasn't until the Romans took control in about 42 A.D., however, that the port city (named Sebta at the time) took on an almost exclusive military purpose. Approximately 400 years later, the Vandals ousted the Romans for control and, in 710 A.D., fell to the emerging Muslim invaders themselves . Under the leadership of Berber chief, Tarik-ibn-Ziyad, Ceuta was used as a prime staging ground for an assault on Goth-held Spain soon after.
Centuries later, in 1415, Ceuta was taken by the Portuguese under the leadership of Prince Henry the Navigator. The primary aim of the conquest was to expel Muslim influence from the area and further promote Chrisitanity. Portugal and Spain's comingling in the late 16th century (specifically their 1580 A.D. union) finally yielded the port to Spain.
In the modern era, Ceuta is known for its cosmopolitan nature and unique European influence--all of which have increased tourism to the area.
- Ceuta has also been called the African Pillar of Hercules.