Tangier, the gateway to Africa, never ceases to mesmerize its countless number of visitors each year. Blending European with African, Berber and Arab culture gives Tangier an unusual but authentic vibe. The hustle and bustle of this Eastern land contrasts with its European neighbor, Spain; whilst an overlap in culture is evident Tangier distinguishes itself as a melting pot of different civilizations. Here we list the top 10 things to do and see in this fascinating town.
Get lost in the Kasbah
Enter through the beautiful Bab Haha gate and wander through the cobbled residential and commercial alleyways of the Kasbah walls. The most enjoyable and least stressful way to see the sites is not by looking for them, but by stumbling across them. In the likely event of getting lost be sure to keep walking uphill and you will be sure to find one of thebabs, (doors) that allow you to exit the premises. You will at some point during your stroll come across the famous 17th-century palace, now transformed in to a museum and located off the Place du Menchoar. It is home to an interesting array of relics ageing from the Stone Age to the 20th century. The hill top locations of the Kasbah give visitors sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.
See the Grande Mosquée of Tangier
During the 5th century this was the site of a Roman temple. After the Portugueseconquest it was converted into cathedral and during the 8th century its central location seemed suitable for place of Muslim prayer; it was turned into a mosque and has since been reverted back to a church and again to a mosque. 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.
Enjoy a delicious glass of freshly squeezed orange juice
With a sub-tropical Mediterranean climate, oranges have become somewhat of a celebrity within Morocco in general. Pay no more than 5 dirhams for this refreshing, freshly squeezed drink. Available in abundance everywhere it should be easy to find and well worth the money, however if you want ice ensure it is made from bottled water.
Stroll the beach promenade
Over the years as the tourism industry grows, funding has been invested in sustaining the cleanliness of cities and sites around Morocco. The beaches of Tangier have especially reaped the benefits of this and are an oasis outside of the city, with golden sand and sparkling blue waters. The beaches proximity to the port mean that an ambiance of hustle and bustle always exists, and being the gateway to Africa from Europe keeps the place busy and colorful.
Visit St Andrew’s Church
St Andrew’s Church is one of Tangier’s most mesmerising sites. Completed in 1905 as a gift from King Hassan I of Morocco, this popular tourist site is a fusion of different architectures and styles, reflecting Morocco’s multicultural population. The church is a focal point for Christians in Tangier, whilst also exhibiting Quranic inscriptions on its Moorish interior and marking the direction of Muslim prayer to Mecca. A visit to this religious holy site gives a new meaning to the interfaith experience.
Visit the American Legation Museum
Unknown to many people is that Morocco was the first country to recognise the USA as an independent state after the revolutionary war. Located within the hustle of the Medina, this museum adds a somewhat foreign feel to the city. With an unusual 1940s vibe, this museum transports you to a different time and has an array of unique and engaging exhibitions, including one on Paul Bowles. A must see is the locally famous painting often termed the ‘Moroccan Mona Lisa’.
8 Rue d’Amerique, Tanger 90000, Morocco +212 5399-35317
Enjoy a Mint Tea in Petit Socco
Historically, the Petit Socco was known as a place of drug dealers and prostitutes. Fortunately, the region is now a harmless square with tourists and locals alike sipping mint tea or orange juice as they watch the world go by. Unlike the packaged teabag versions, Moroccan mint tea is made with fresh mint leaves and a touch of sugar, resulting in a deliciously refreshing drink.
Relax at the Grand Socco
Where the old and new meet, the Grand Socco is where the wide road diverges into narrow cobbled streets. With a mosque to one side and cinema on the other this place is truly a crossroads between the ages. Withdraw cash from the ATM and spend it at the traditional market stalls selling a variety of kaftans, dried nuts and fresh foods. The central fountain is surrounded by benches, making it a perfect place to experience and contemplate this meeting point of eras.
Watch a film at the Cinema Rif
Located in the vicinity of the Grand Socco , this cinema is not hard to find, and is a popular hangout for locals. Streaming both mainstream and independent films in a colonial style building, a trip to this cinema is a unique and authentic Tangier experience. This cinema seems to glorify its mixed cultural roots and like Tangier serves as a crossroad of cultures, showcasing films in French and Arabic.
Librairie des Colonnes
An Aladdin’s Cave of treasures and curiosities for every bibliophile, the Librairie des Colonnes has been a Tangier institution since 1949, and was a favourite stomping ground of some of the 20th century’s greatest writers: Samuel Beckett, Truman Capote, Jean Genet and Tennessee Williams amongst them. The exterior of the building is charming and old-fashioned, while the inside is lined with shelves upon shelves of books, few of them in English and all of them entirely fascinating.