Sitting as the European doorway to Africa and with an independent international zone, during the last century, Tangier quickly became a vibrant cultural interlacing that attracted the world’s most eccentric artists, quirky millionaires, and most dangerous spies. Now the major northwestern Moroccan city has shaken off any prior seediness but maintains its cultural diversity and this can be seen in the many influences flowing through the city like a river, through its buildings and its people, through its art and its literature. You will not regret visiting the beautiful white city that is so lit up with an inextinguishable energy you can almost feel its heartbeat. In this article, we will walk you through the places to see before you leave Tangier. Be sure to add it to your BUCKiTDREAM list and head on out to Tangier!
First off, don’t fear for a language barrier, for in Tangier, English, Spanish, and French are all well understood in all hotels and tourist areas.
The Grand Socco The Grand Socco, meaning grand square, is a plaza at the entrance to the medina (old walled part of a north African town). It is the point at which modern, tarmac streets of today meet the cobbled streets the past. Lined with large, leaning palms and a central fountain, it makes for a picturesque, lively scene. At night it comes alive with the hustle and bustle of vendors selling second-hand goods, fruits, and spices.
For the best view, climb the steps at the highest point on the circle, to what locals simply call La Terrasse (the terrace). From here, there is a palpable electricity that radiates from the streets below.
Check Out The Grand Socco is also home to the Cinema Rif, which pumps out arthouse movies from all around the world. As well as this, there are cafes dotted all around the plaza which all focus their attention toward the atmospheric center, giving it the appearance of an amphitheater. The Grand Socco is the young, happening area of Tangier where locals will give you a taste of modern day Morocco, and as such, this is the place to be if you want to be on the cultural forefront of the city.
Get Lost in The Kasbah The Kasbah is where the sultan once lived. It commands most of the Medina’s northern section. From the gate, it opens onto a spacious courtyard, which leads on to the Dar el-Makhzem Palace and the Kasbah Museum. The palace was built in the 17th century and enlarged by each subsequent sultan. You’ll certainly have your breath taken away by the intricate, carved wooden ceilings and marble courtyard showcasing the detailed Moroccan craft-work and there are an array of relics dating all the way back to the Stone Age. Make sure you check out the hilltops of the Kasbah – viewpoints providing stunning, sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea meeting. Also in the Kasbah is the famous Cafe Detroit, which became a haunt for many of the influential, expatriate writers and artists that traveled to Tangier.
See The Grande Mosquée Of Tangier Once a Roman temple, then a cathedral, and then, during the eighth century it became a mosque, and following on from this it once again became a church, and finally settling on a mosque. Clearly, there is an issue with commitment here – something that either religion is sure to have an issue with! The series of conversions it has undergone during its time make it a fascinating example of Morocco‘s rich and varied history, as well as an architectural point of interest.
Pay a visit to St Andrew’s Church St Andrew’s Church is one of Tangier’s most memorable sites. An Anglican church completed in 1905 as a gift from King Hassan I of Morocco, St Andrew’s is a popular tourist site that finds inspiration from many architectural eras and styles thanks to the melting pot that is Tangier, however, the most prominent styling is Moorish. The church is a focal point for Christians in Tangier. What’s particularly interesting is the Quran inscriptions on its interior – this merging of religions truly illuminates the mixing of influences through the city.
Bury Your Nose in a Book At Librairie Des Colonnes Heaven on earth for the bibliophile and casual peruser alike, the Librairie des Colonnes was built in 1949. Samuel Beckett, Truman Capote, Jean Genet, Tennessee Williams, and George Orwell all wiled away the hours at this colossal collection of books. There are few books in English but even monolingual English speakers will enjoy the visual created by row after row after row of books. It has a quainter, more charming feel than the grandeur of European city libraries and that’s refreshing.
So now we’ve taken you from the square bursting with the liveliness of the city’s youth and culture to a church that pays homage to religions outside its own, we bet you’re ready to get out there, right? Fill up your BUCKiTDREAM planner with your favorite tips and share any snaps on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.