The history of Tangier has been shaped by the sea and by its
on the Straits of Gibraltar. Since the 14th
century Tangier has been captured
by the Portuguese, the Spanish,
the English, the Alaouïtes and the French before being returned to
Morocco after the independence in 1956. Its location and history
make that Tangier has a special character that sets it apart from the other Moroccan cities. It has drawn
artists and writers – Henri Matisse, Paul Bowles – and thanks to its
port Tangier is Europe’s door into Africa.
This fortified citadel dating from the twelfth century is built
inside the Medina,
on the heights of Tangier, overlooking the rest
of the city. Inside, there are prestigious residences that have
preserved all their glory. Dar el Makhzen, a former sultan’s palace
dating from 1648, today houses a museum of
Moroccan crafts and antiquities. The Kasbah Mosque has an unusual
octagonal minaret with coloured tiles which present form dates from
the 19th century.
With its quiet streets and friendly inhabitants,
the Kasbah has a special character and its walls and
gates command stunning
views over the strait, the bay and the city.
The link between the Medina and the Ville Nouvelle (New Town) is the
Grand Socco Square, which was renamed ‘Place du 9 Avril 1947’ in
memory of the speech that Mohammed V made in support of the
independence. The square comes alive in the evenings, when vendors
spread out their wares on the ground and a colourful market takes
place just above the square. The minaret of the
Sidi Bou Abib Mosque (1917), decorated
with polychrome tiles, overlooks the square from the southwest.
The Café Hafa opened in 1920, and neither the furniture nor the
décor seem to have changed since then. Located on the edge
of a cliff facing the Atlantic Ocean, it
offers a breathtaking view of the strait. An ideal place for mint
tea, coffee or a smoke,
lots of writers and singers have come
here: William Burroughs, Sean Connery, Paul Bowles, The Beatles and
The Rolling Stones.
Place de France & Place de Faro
Place de France is a major meeting place for the inhabitants of
Tangier. The Café de Paris, which opened in 1920, was the first
establishment to open outside the Medina. Once Tangier’s most
fashionable café, Paul Bowles, Tennessee Williams and Jean Genet
were among its regular customers, as well as foreign diplomats.
Today it remains a hub of city life. Very near Place de France is
Place de Faro (named after the Portuguese town twinned with Tangier
in 1984), complete with cannons. It offers a view of the Medina and
of ferry traffic in the harbour and the strait of Gibraltar.
We find ‘Les Grottes d’Hercules’ (Hercules Caves) about 10 km
(6miles) West of Tangier. At the place known as Achakar, the sea has
carved impressive caves out of the cliff. According to legend,
Hercules slept here before performing one of his 12 labours. The
entrance to the caves, facing onto the sea, is a cleft shaped
resembling the map of Africa. Further south, beneath the level of
the caves, are ‘the Ruins of Cotta’ (1st century BC to 3rd AD). With
vats for salting fish, making garum and producing purple dye, this
was one of the largest industrial centres of the Punic-Mauritanian
Close to Hercules Caves, on the most north-westerly point of Africa,
stands a lighthouse at the cape. It was built in 1864
on Cape Spartel to prevent the many
shipwrecks that occurred in the rough waters of the ocean. From
beneath the lighthouse,
there is a breathtaking view where the
Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. On clear days you can
see the strait
and coast of Spain from Cape Trafalgar
to the rock of Gibraltar.
The bay of Tangier is a grand crescent that stretches for almost 4km
(2.5miles). Due to the closeness to the city and the pollution, the
beaches on the East and Westside of Tangier are better fit for
swimming and sunbathing. On the Westside we find beautiful beaches
between Cape Spartel and Hercules Caves and East to Tangier there
are the coves of Cap Malabata, the beaches at Sidi Khankroucht and
Ksar es-Seghir. The beach at Mrissa, ‘plage des Amiraux’ and Wadi
Aliane are also worthwhile.
Winter temperature = 8 - 18°C Summer temperature = 20 – 30°C
Mediterranean climate with rainy winters and high humidity level
throughout the year
Festivals Tanjazz septembre.
Official website of the festival: