Nestled in the northwestern Morocco, on the coast of Maghreb, guarding the Strait of Gibraltar is the Europe’s gateway to Africa, namely Tangier. Visit the city to watch Mediterranean Sea merging with the Atlantic Ocean off the Cape Spartel.
While located in the Moroccan jurisdiction now, Tangier, for much of its history was not governed by the kingdom.
Between the period of being a Berber town, a Phoenician trading center, and an Independent city, Tangier has been influenced by several cultures. It was considered as having International Status in 1923 by foreign colonial powers. Many American writers, businessmen, spies, and diplomats stayed in Tangier during the time and enjoyed its serene coasts and relaxing ambience.
The old city of Tangier carries the legacy of the past in the form of the remains of a guarding wall, which was once more than 1800 meters stone rampart. While, the parts of the ramparts have been restored from time to time, an air of authenticity still surrounds the wall. There are several other ancient buildings that are worth visiting.
While, Imperial Cities have overshadowed the popularity of other cities in Morocco, Tangier has maintained its reputation as an inviting vacation hub. The aroma of its seafood, picturesque beauty of its coast, and amalgamation of different cultures have drawn many tourists to the city.
Modern transportation with new TGV train line has made exploring Tangier an easy task. Get set and dive into the buzzing lifestyle of this coastal city to make most of your holidays.
Places to explore in Tangier
Romanticized by Bead poets, artists, and writers, the city is full of boutique hotels and cafés tucked in the corners. One can easily spot the European influence in these buildings. While, most tourists visit the city only for a day here, but if you stay longer and give it some time, the city will grow on you.
Like many other cities in Morocco, Tangier has a Medina. Its labyrinthine alleyways are typical of the rest of Medinas in the kingdom. Filled with brothels, shops, stalls, mosques, and cafés, the old walled city is always bustling with people. Trinkets are plentiful and make a terrific souvenir. Although the buildings in the Medina of Tangier are more modern than those of other Medina’s they incite fascination in equal measure. Confined inside the 15th century Portuguese fortress, it has an imposing appeal, stays clean, and offers a lot to explore.
Cape Spartel is known for being a promontory where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet. The location is about 12 km west of Tangier. The dramatic scenic beauty of the place has drawn tourists from different parts of the world. You can also go camel-trekking on the beach or take a leisurely stroll.
Caves of Hercules
Under Cape Spartel is the archeological cave complex called Caves of Hercules. Named after the Roman god, the cave is believed to be bottomless. According to the legend, Hercules stayed and slept in this cave before doing his 11th labor. The 11th labor was to get golden apples from Hesperides Garden. Another legend states that the Strait of Gibraltar was created when Hercules smashed through the Atlas mountain, which he was supposed to cross.
Refresh yourself with a mint tea in Café Baba
The café’s inextricable connection with the Rolling Stones have made it a popular hangout point of the city. The locals and tourists visit the café for a cup of mint tea and smoking kief.
What’s interesting is that the café owners and staff members did not know who they were serving until they saw a photograph of Keith Richards lighting a pipe in Café Baba that came in the mail.
Apart from the famous band, the café has since served many other celebrities including the kings of Spain and Sweden, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, punk rock legend Patti Smith, and many 20th century aristocrats.
Mint tea at Petit Socco
Similar to Café Baba, this café is also famous for serving some renowned personalities. The only difference is that personalities served by Café Baba were famous, while Petit Socco welcomed those who were infamous, including drug lords and harlots of the city. Officially named Place Souq Ad Dakhil, the place was once the most notorious crossroads of the city.
Currently, the square is freshly painted and a pleasant place to sit and sip mint tea. The tea at Petit Socco is not packaged but made with fresh mint leaves and sugar. A single sip is known to refresh all the senses and relax even the conscience of the person.
Other places to explore in Tangier
The Grande Mosquée of Tangier – Once a Roman temple, then a Portuguese cathedral, now a mosque, this site is the best example of exchange of influences and culture in Tangier.
The Cinema Rif – If you are a movie-person, watch a movie in this colonial-style theatre that runs movies in French and Arabic languages.
Librairie des Colonnes – Once a popular spot for famous writers like Samuel Beckett and Tennessee Williams, this is the perfect place for the bibliophiles.
Tips on getting around the city of Tangier
Though the city is a wonderful place to spend your vacations and people around are friendly, it is a must that you watch out for the hustlers. Touts are likely to approach you as soon as you get off the ferry, train, or bus.
Expect some too-good-to-be-true deals or free services. Do not fall for such hoax. Nothing in Tangier is for free! A free guided tour can end in a trinket’s shop or demand for money. A free cup of tea and lead to a carpet stall. When you hear the word “free”, firmly say thanks and move ahead.
If you take a taxi, make sure that the driver uses meter correctly. Grand taxis are more expensive, and you will need to negotiate the prices in advance. It is better you get a personal guide from the hotel or book one from the day tour services.
In the touristy places, make sure you buy your own tickets and fill your own forms. Those advising you to go buy tickets from a specific place are usually working on commission. Choose your hotel beforehand, so no commission-based broker can impose or lure you to an overly-expensive one.
Tangier is a buzzing place that is rich in history, culture, natural beauty, and tourist spots. In short, it is one of the best places you can decide on for spending your next holidays.