Why would you want to start your Moroccan adventure in Tangier (sometimes referred to as Tangiers)? You have probably heard the rumors that Tangier is not safe for travelers and prices are high. Once the city, boasted a population of Americans and Europeans that partied hard. However, all that has changed in the last few decades. The Moroccan government has scoured Tangier Morocco. Savvy travelers of today have no trouble enjoying the Moroccan treasures found here.
Tangier is different than most of the rest of Moroccan cities. It sets on the Mediterranean Sea where it meets the Atlantic Ocean near the Straits of Gilbrater at Cape Spartel. Andalusian influences can be seen everywhere. Secondly, Tangiers has been a refuge for peoples from many diverse places. An incredible mix, of North African cultures, is present in the city. Stir in the growing influence of the modern world, Tangier is a great “off the beaten path” destination. Besides, there is a lot to see and do in Tangier.
As your Moroccan tour operator will tell you, Tangiers is very much tourist friendly. It has hotels for every budget along with hostels and apartments for rent. Restaurants are plentiful and the food is good. Tangiers is quite easy to get around too. Many places are accessible by foot or mini taxis are easily found.
Start your Tangiers tour with the Medina. Tangiers sports a real medina and it’s in good condition. It has been around since medieval times, with narrow streets. Houses come in of many different styles with painted doors, decorated gates, and Rose bushes. This medina is quite large. Not too many work areas are found, mostly tourist shops or commercial areas. The main gate leading from the medina near the Great Mosque takes you directly to the beach walk. Streets leading into the medina take you into a notorious area called Petit Socco known in the older times as the souk. Now days it is the transportation center. If you head for the beach walk, you will see wonderful views of the sea and be able to people watch as you stroll along.
When visiting the medina, don’t forget to go to The Tangier American Legation Museum. When the USA was a new nation, Morocco was the first country to establish diplomatic relations and recognize it as such. The United States established the Legation in 1777. Besides the collection of art and historical landmark, the Paul Bowles Museum is housed here, too.
Another of the sites to see in Tangiers includes the Kasbah. It fronts the former sultanate palace which is now a museum. The Kasbah’s fortifications dominate the area which are in good condition This is one of the most attractive areas of Tangiers. It is a quiet, attractive. Many luxurious old houses are found behind the façade. One such place is the Dar el-Makhzen built by Sultan Moulay Ismail. This palace was abandoned in 1912 and was eventually turned into a museum or art and architecture. Among the exhibits are finds from Volubilis and fine examples of old craftsmanship of wooden ceilings and marble fountains.
Gran Teatro de Cervantes is a must see. Built during a time when many Spaniards lived in Tangiers, it opened a year before the outbreak of World War I. It had another heyday in the 1950s but has since fell into disrepair. This wonderful art deco façade is a draw for tourists. Although it is closed for now, it will be reopened in the near future. You will have a view of what Tangiers may have looked like when the Spanish outnumbered the Moroccans.
Beaches in the city are not the best places to visit. Jump into a taxi and head out of town take a 10 minute ride to find out the best beaches. Here you will find clean sands with mountains as a backdrop. All the proper amenities are found here too.
Tangiers is a good city to begin or end your Moroccan holiday. The new part of the city has undergone rapid modernizations. Five star hotels are found along the bay. Tangiers has a new airport with international connections. A modern business district called Tangiers City Center and a new sports stadium contrasts with the old city. Talk with your Moroccan tour operator to hash out a Morocco itinerary that your desires include. They will set up all the arrangements and give you an itinerary that includes all the sights and scenes that Tangier, Morocco has to offer.
by Carole Morris