Tangier is a city that is completely immersed in history. It was first established as a Phoenician town because of its good access to the North African Coast. Throughout the thousands of years of its history it has been occupied by many different peoples, the Berbers, Arabs, French and Spanish for instance, and has been influenced by many different cultures which make it the curious place it is today. Having been a prominent location in world diplomatic and commercial matters from the late nineteenth century until the present, Tangier was a city of massive importance to Europe in recent times, but was reunited with the rest of Morocco following the countries independence in 1956.

With such a multicultural history, Tangier has traditionally attracted many foreign artists who have been seduced by the charm of the city's colour and light. Matisse famously was influenced by the view from his hotel window in the city and authors such as Tennessee Williams and Jack Kerouac have both spent time writing here. In all honesty this city has probably seen more charming days than the present, as today its dirty streets and untrustworthy guides can be enough to put off many a tourist, but its sensuous colours and smells continue to attract intrepid visitors who cannot resist the atmosphere that still encapsulates Tangier.


The Kasbah - The Kasbah is a fortified residential quarter that dates back to the seventeenth century. It is the area that represents best the charms of old Tangier and is most separated from the seedier streets around the central markets. As a tourist you are able to wander the narrow, winding streets and take a peep into the romantic part of Moroccan life, looking out of Tangier to the sea and, on a clear day, as far as Spain. In the centre of the Kasbah is the attractive mosque that sits in a pretty octagonal minaret. The Sultan's Gardens in the north of the Kasbah area are open to visitors who may wander through and watch local craftsmen at work as they make intricate pieces of an unparalleled quality. The Dar El Makhzen is situated next door, the Sultan's palace, and it houses a very impressive selection of art from all over Morocco.

The Grand Socco - Situated in the hear of Tangier, only a short walk from the city's docks which as act as a gateway for so many tourists to the area, the Grand Socco serves as the main market area to the populace of the city. The name dates back to when the Spanish occupied Tangier and imposed their word for market, socco, on the Arabic word, souk. Today the square is a hectic place and it is difficult to imagine a time when people might have wandered slowly through whilst taking in the sites, as it is just as much of a giant taxi rank as it is a market. As cars race through the stinking streets and people bustle at you on the streets from all angles the Grand Socco can seem a very unpleasant, let alone intimidating place, for tourists to explore. Hardened travellers should not feel put off, as this is after all present day Morocco as many Moroccan's see it, but you should always be vigilant of robbers and drug dealers whilst visiting this area.

The American Legation - When Morocco became the first power that recognised the United States as a country back in 1777, they were given a gift in return. The American Legation is this gift, a building that has provided over the years a thriving cultural centre, a museum and a library. Today it serves as a museum that houses a selection of pieces of art and impressive restored rooms.


If you can deal with the hassles of the guides and the seedier locals in the markets, then you might be able to discover some great finds in Tangier. Many of the locally made furnishings look ridiculously over the top when witnessed in the small Moroccan side street shops but when taken home can often look fantastic and minimalist. The detail on them make many of the locally hand crafted products, like tiles, lamp shades and candles, come across as of unbridled quality and uniquely found in Tangier. For value for money, quality and the unique experience of a day's shopping in a frantic city, Tangier is well worth the visit, as long as you are prepared for the hassles. It is advisable not to drink the tap water and to dress comfortably for a day out at the shops as the cobbled streets, steep staircases and sweaty weather make for a testing affair.

Nightlife and Eating Out

As so many things are in Tangier, eating out is a real experience. You can go up market and eat in one of the luxury hotels, such as the Hotel Intercontinental, that will offer you divine couscouses, meat selections and other local dishes. If you are more interested in a truly authentic experience you can eat in one of the many restaurants closer to the Grand Socco where the food will be spicy and very tasty for fantastically cheap prices. There is no need to be too worried about the quality of the food as the meat is usually cooked fairly well and served with a great panache, but do watch out with the salads that are washed with local water and can often give you a bad stomach.

Tangier is certainly a city that is alive at night, the streets often bustling until well into the morning. The atmosphere is usually pleasant enough as the strict Muslim laws prohibit most places to serve alcohol the locals are usually sober, respectful and polite. If you want to find a place to have a quiet drink try some of the more western style hotels, but do not expect clubbing until the early hours. The Hotel Intercontinental certainly has a bar as do many of the other higher class hotels.

Tourist Information

  • [http://www.maroc-selction.com/ www.maroc-selection.com]
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British Airways, Iberia, Regional Airlines and Royal Air Maroc all fly to Tangier, Boukhalef Airport. The only public transport available at the airport to take you into Tangier are taxis which should cost roughly 100 dirham ($10).