Tag Archives: Tangier

Discovering Tangier

When it comes to holidays in Morocco is thought especially in Marrakech that is among the best known tourist destinations in Morocco. But we want to discover Tangier, which certainly has nothing to envy to other cities.

Tangier-500x375Public Domain

We start by saying that  the Strait of Gibraltar separates Morocco from Spain and, therefore, Africa and Europe. Here blend the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Given its strategic location, the city of Tangier has always played a very important role, and this even more so from 1923 to 1956, when it was declared an international city.
Its history is one of invasion and occupation by various peoples and nations and this has meant that the city is truly cosmopolitan, they speak Arabic, French and Spanish.
Besides, Spain is just 14km. Tangier is very easy to reach by ferry (click here). The port is near the train station and the bus then move in the city and its surroundings is really easy.

Mostly Mediterranean climate is particularly pleasant in all seasons. In winter, there may be some rain, but not of relevant intensity. Temperatures this season are around 8 degrees in the minimum and 17 degrees max. In summer it goes from 20 degrees to about 30 during the hottest hours; rarely exceeds these values. The humidity instead is quite high. The water temperature is around 14 degrees in winter and 22 degrees in summer.

Exploring the city

We now start to explore the city: from the port you arrive fast enough to the Kasbah which is a portion of the fortified Medina.
Here we find the Museum of the Kasbah, called Dar Al Makhzen or Sultan’s Palace; It was built in the seventeenth century and served as a residence for various sultans. Then, in 1992, the palace became a museum, or rather two, since there is the Museum of Moroccan Arts and the Museum of Antiquities. Here it is contained the testimony of the encounter between the different cultures that have enriched the city.
There are many rooms in which they are exposed, in addition to the exhibits, also local crafts such as jewelry, pottery, embroidery and Berber kilim rugs ; it is worth stopping to admire the magnificent carved wooden doors and fantastic mosaics.

Continuing along the Medina are the Great Mosque: it seems that it was originally a Roman temple and later the Portuguese built a church.
In the heart of the Medina is a small square, or Small Socco Petit Souk, surrounded by restaurants, bars and cafes; Here many artists have sought and found inspiration. Some famous examples are: Delacroix, Matisse, Joseph Kessel and Paul Bowles.


Photo CC BY-SA 3.0 Hedwig Storch

Also in the Medina it is the Old American Legation Museum, which is also a center of research and study.
We move a little to get to the district of Marshan. Here we find the Forbes Museum, the Palace Dar El Mandoub. This building is a real gem of Moorish architecture of the XIX century. The museum is named after American billionaire Malcolm Forbes who built the palace.
Forbes had gathered an incredible collection of more than 100,000 lead soldiers, in representation of the most famous battles, such as that of Waterloo.
Unfortunately today this collection can be no longer admird entirely because partly was sold by the heirs of Forbes but the rest was donated to the city. The building was bought back by the state and now houses the various heads of state visiting Tangier. A curiosity again: Forbes celebrated his birthday here with Liz Taylor, his partner at that time; the party in great pomp attended by many politicians and international celebrities .

The new town is crossed by the Boulevard Pasteur, which is the main street of the modern city; Here are all the most elegant shops. Then there is the Grand Socco square (Grand Souk) where a large market full of colors gives the incredible smells: the scent of spices mingle with the smells of grilled meat.
Not far away is one of the most beautiful hotels in Tangier; have stayed here, among many others, Winston Churchill and Rita Hayworth. Bernardo Bertolucci filmed here some scenes of the film “The Sheltering Sky,” based on the novel by Paul Bowles.
Also in the new city, there is a viewpoint, the “Terrasse des Paresseux”. By day there is a fantastic view of the harbor, the Medina, the strait and the Spanish coast; at night it becomes a lively place from the nightlife.

Beaches close to Tangier

As for the beaches, however, the choice is wide: you can choose to stay on the Mediterranean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. Choosing the Mediterranean side, after Cap Malabata, less than 10 km, we will enjoy the long stretches of sand. Instead heading towards Cape Spartel, on the Atlantic, we will reach the beach of Sidi Kacem, from which we can also get to the Cave of Hercules; these are natural caves formed by the movement of the waves on the stone. Legend has it that the caves were home to Hercules when he separated Europe from Africa. The visit of the caves is cheap but, being a place much visited by tourists, in its surroundings it is full of souvenir sellers.

Further on there are some beaches a little more hidden like that of Las Cuevas, where we can also find niches nice, unpretentious, eat broiled fish, freshly caught.
However, there are many other beaches, like Tangier Beach and Dalia Beach. It is not uncommon to see the camels on the beaches. They are beloved by tourists for walking.
You can also do various tours by boat and many water sports. There are schools for surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Another proposal yet for the more adventurous; it comes to off-road and 4×4 tours: a blast! The quad-biking can be rather interesting for families.


As for the gastronomic side of the holiday, there is such a variety of types of food that they have no other issue will be spoiled for choice.
The city’s history has obviously influenced her cooking. So we find a mix of European and African food cultures.
The Arab influence brought all the spices; the Spanish olives and olive oil; the bread is due to the French, etc.
Many dishes are made from sheep, lamb and goat are bred on site in large quantities. For example there is the tajine (name of the terracotta pot with a lid to tip) where various cooked meats and poultry; you can not miss the couscous with meat and vegetables, but it is a city of sea fish is very present, as well as seafood.
There is still a great choice of restaurants, each with its own food culture and especially with their prices, from the cheapest to the most expensive one.


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.

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.


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!