What to know about Tangier

Of all the cities of Morocco, Tangier is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful and well known city. The city, which in Arabic is called Tanja, is the main port of northern Morocco and is a fairly large city, as the population swells over half a million inhabitants.

It is one of the most important city of the historical roots of the nation. Tangier, during the course of the centuries, has undergone several rules, from the Phoenician until you get to the Spanish and the British and the whole thing had much influence on its development, as well as its architecture.

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Photo Public domain

By degrees, the Romans managed to wrest the city, considered strategic due to its location on the sea, in Carthage. We are in 146 B.C. and the Romans were able to beat the Carthaginians and to take possession of the most important centres of northern Africa, which are important for the control of the Mediterranean. Tangier, then, in 38 BC became a Roman colony, called Tingi and, later, became the capital of the region called Mauritania Tingitana. However, in the eighth century A.D. things began to change, and the city became a Muslim site and, soon after, an emirate. During the fifteenth century, however, the Portuguese arrived. They remained on site until 1662, when the British arrived, who managed to extend their domination on the area. Since that time, the push for independence became stronger and stronger, until, in the seventeenth century, the Muslim separatist front started to become wider and wider, although it was not until 1684 that they started gaining independence from the invader. Since that time, Tangier began to be reborn and to have a period of great success from the point of view of trade. Naturally, however, history has taught us that not everything ended well: Tangier was subjected to international regime following a crisis of 1920. Who arrived here? France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Belgium! These nations were tasked to control the region that, in 1940, it was conquered by the Spaniards.

The troubled and quite complex history  in the region has made sure that different peoples are mixed into the area and this has led to the emergence of different architectural styles that have merged into each other, to create a city to visit in length and breadth. Moreover, the city offers much to those who visit, since it is both a city from the architectural point of view and from the “natural” one, with beautiful beaches and bays. Let’s start from the latter, in order to give some advice to all those who dream of a holiday made of sea and sun.

The beaches of the Bay of Tangier are very beautiful and their main feature is the fact that they are always crowded with tourists and locals, who practice water sports. But the bay is also suitable for horse riding, for example, because it is one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. Many luxurious hotels are located here and this allows you to stay right next to the sea.

But Tangier also has a beautiful old town, also known as the medina of Tangier. It is located at the northwest part of the city and, to be precise, very close to the port. Here, among winding streets, ups and downs and everything else, there are several stalls selling everything from food to spices and typical fancy clothes and so on. It is a real market or, better yet, a big bazaar, where you can find everything and more. Although there are larger Medine, like that of Marrakech, for example, also that of Tangier is very typical and beautiful to explore, clean and full of life, even if only during daylight hours. Simply put, in the morning hours, this is the real centre of the city, where you meet people and where business is done. The highest part of the Medina is occupied by what is called Kasbah: here few shops, but many wonderful palaces that are located along the streets.

In this area, in fact, we are the most beautiful riad in the city, those of the rich and wealthy and it is a real delight. But continuing to the northern part of the Medina, you may notice a door incorporated into the perimeter walls: from here the view is beautiful, as you can see the Atlantic Ocean, the Strait of Spain and the port of Tangier. For sure it is a landscape to be photographed to keep it forever etched in the mind. In Medina, however, in addition to stores and shops and wonderful riad, there are also museums. Among these we point out the Musée de la Kasbah, which is located in a beautiful building was once the residence of the sultan, the Tangier American Legation Museum and the Musée de la Fondation Lorin which is housed in what was once a synagogue. It merges art and culture in a sublime way, and all this makes even more interesting the whole area.

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Photo CC-BY-SA by Magnus Manske

Going down to the bottom of the Medina, you can find  the Petit Socco, the core  centre of Tangier, the crossroads of the most famous cities. Here is the historic Café Central who once saw a huge bustle and still attracts tourists from around the world. Finally, the Grand Mosque is another unmissable beauty of Tangier, although it is not as huge as you might expect. From Medina, then we move to what is called the ville nouvelle, which is the new part of town. Here the cultural centres of Tangier, as the Cinema Rif. A fabulous waterfront rounds, although we strongly advise to bathe in the waters near the port, since here it could not be properly cleaned. Here you will find the large apartment buildings that face the sea: a strong building development is being observed to grow in recent years in the city. So in this way it has been built up close to the beach and it is here that there are also the most beautiful hotels in the city.

Everyone interested in spending a holiday in Tangier – also reachable by ferry (for further infos, click here) can be sure that it will really fascinated!

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