What’s more, from Madrid or Barcelona the fastest way to travel to this area of the neighboring country is by flying directly to Tangier airport, which makes it the first destination.
But what can you see and visit in Tangier ?
The city of Tangier highlights its historic international character that gives it a special halo beyond the exoticism of other Moroccan cities.
Did you know that Tangier was an international city that depended on several countries during the time of the French and Spanish protectorate that from 1912 to 1956 covered the region of North Africa that we now know as Morocco?
Tangier, international city
At that time, the inhabitants of the Spanish protectorate who had in Tetouan their most important enclave, and those of the French protectorate with Fez as their capital, needed a passport to enter Tangier.
In fact, the so-called international zone of Tangier was established between 1923 and 1960, because it was not until this last year when Morocco, after the declaration of independence in 1956, acquired the effective sovereignty of this coastal city.
The protectorate of Tangier was exercised by several countries: France and Spain, which at that time had divided under their sovereignty the current territory of Morocco, but also the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and Holland.
That international interest for Tangier has its origin many centuries ago in history, which is understood by its strategic place in the northernmost point of the African continent as one of the entrance doors to the Mediterranean Sea.
History of Tangier
The Phoenicians arrived in this geographical area and they named it Tingis , the original name of Tangier .
Tingis was the name of a goddess lover of Hercules , who according to legend separated Europe from Africa by opening the Strait of Gibraltar .
Later it was the Portuguese who in 1471 took the city, once again, for its strategic interest, for two centuries later to give it to the British.
At the end of the seventeenth century a Moroccan sultan took control of Tangier , until at the beginning of the 20th century it was again the object of foreigners’ interest with the arrival of the protectorate and the aforementioned declaration of an international zone.
That was a time of great strength for Tangier , a city that attracted a great variety of Western visitors, from artists that fostered a cultural boom, to exiles, spies, bohemian people … and also marginal.
After the independence of Morocco, the city experienced years of decline and, from the tourist point of view, it became an unpleasant place for visitors.
It was precisely this situation that, many years ago, and based on the bad experiences of friends who visited Tangier , I decided to take a trip to the north of Morocco out of my priorities .
However, with the new reign of Mohamed VI , Tangier has become a strategic point in the monarch’s purpose of giving a push to modernize the country.
Crime was persecuted and Tangier has opened up to the world facilitating the implantation of large multinational companies, turning this area into an important center of industrial production.
It is a large and modern merchandise and passenger port located 40 kilometers north of the city, in the Strait of Gibraltar , and very close to Ceuta , whose first phase was inaugurated in 2007.
At present Tangier Med has overtaken important Spanish ports in the number of containers that moves, in parallel to the implantation in the vicinity of the city important European industrial companies, including Spanish.
Another very important infrastructure for this process of transformation of Tangier is the high-speed train that in a very short time will link this city with Casablanca , whose construction is currently being completed
In this way, when you arrive in Tangier you find a city with several faces.
On the one hand, a large city in clear expansion, surrounded by large industrial areas where the aforementioned international companies are installed, and in a clear process of modernization of the area of its promenade located next to its huge beach.
The result is that in this area you now find a very modern city, with large and luxurious hotels and huge shopping centers and leisure facilities.
And on the other hand, Tangier maintains its historical side with some old European neighborhoods that are also in the process of transformation.
What to see in Tangier
From the tourist side, your visit to Tangier should start in the historic area, on the banks of the old port, also full remodeling, where ferries arrive from Algeciras or Tarifa.
So in this port is currently being completed to build a huge marina for leisure boats.
In the historical zone you will find two clearly delimited areas, the medina with its kasba , and the so-called new city .
To see the latter, if you go by car, you must take the main avenue, Boulevard Pasteur , and successively you will find the old French quarter and the new Spanish neighborhood.
In this tour you will find institutions such as the Instituto Cervantes , Spanish schools, such as Ramón y Cajal , and the Spanish Consulate in one of the largest and most luxurious venues in the city.
As you move along this avenue, you will reach the British and North American areas, where you will find numerous villas.
And later, on the way to Cabo Espartel , passing through a residential area that stretches over hills with lush forests, you will see large mansions.
As a curiosity I will tell you that some of them are now occupied by magnates from Arab Gulf countries , such as the Saudi Oil Minister , who in Tangier has an impressive palace.
But your tour of Tangier should focus on the ancient Kasbah and the medina .
Kasba of Tangier
The Kasbah of Tangier , an old walled enclosure on top of one of the hills of the city, is now a network of narrow streets, some of whose buildings house small charming hotels and riads of European owners.
To highlight the beautiful riad La Maison Blanche Spanish property, from whose very nice terrace you have spectacular views of the city.
On your walk through the Kasbah , from a hole in the wall you have a good viewpoint of the old port of Tangier , where you can see stretches of the old Portuguese fortification.
In the Kasbah of Tangier it is worth entering the Kasba museum, theformer palace of a Sultan, and also the residence of the Portuguese and British governors.
In addition to seeing the building, this museum shows various objects from the history of Tangier and Morocco.
They include a large mosaic floor of the ancient Roman city of Volubilis , and a large and very curious wall map of the ancient Arab occupation in the world.
Medina of Tangier
Leaving through one of the doors of the Kasbah, you can descend through the narrow alleys of the medina.
Around there you will reach the busiest and most commercial area of the same, whose central point is the Plaza del Zoque and its surroundings.
If instead you arrive from the downtown area of the city, to visit the medina of Tangier you must go to the square on April 9 , where the main entrance to said medina is located.
Nearby is the curious Anglican church of St Andrews , which combines a building of Muslim architecture with Christian iconography and even some element of the Hebrew religion.
In front of her you have the Grand Hotel Ville de France , recently renovated, where in your time the French painter Delacroix and later, Matisse , the famous French impressionist who lived in Tangier, and where he embodied several of his most famous works.
It is worth going up to your terrace from where you have beautiful panoramic views of the medina.
On your walk through the lower part of the medina you will go through streets of a certain breadth and you will go through the traditional souks where clothes and souvenir shops abound , which shows you that Tangier is a pretty tourist city.
Of course, in the Medina of Tangier do not expect to find the exoticism of other medinas in Morocco , such as Chefchaouen , or the authenticity of Tetouan .
In the medina you will also see the old Italian neighborhood , with buildings and corners that in a way can remind you of Naples .
The other side of the city that you should see in your visit is reflected in the environment of the huge beach of Tangier of five kilometers in length.
That is the end of building a large promenade with leisure areas, as well as large and modern hotels of the most famous chains in the world.