The city of Tangier is located on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, right next to the Strait of Gibraltar.

Given its location on the top of the country, it is known as Africa’s gateway. It’s a mishmash of Moroccan, European and African cultures, being one of the most multicultural cities in Morocco. It has a special trait that makes it stand out from other Moroccan cities.

Over its history, the city has always been a very desirable harbor, maintaining it’s very interesting strategic position in the Strait of Gibraltar.

According to the legend, Tangier was built by Sufax, the son of Tinjis or of Hercules, according to the Greeks.

14 km away from the city you’ll be able to find the cave of Hercules, where it is believed that he slept before starting his 12 works.

In the 8th century, the Phoenicians established a harbor which was later settled by the Carthaginians. In 146 BCE, it was part of Rome, holding the name of Tingis. It was the capital of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana. Later it was invaded by vandals of the Iberian Peninsula, then followed by Byzantine Empire and even by the Arabs around the year 702.

In the year 1471, which is considered as the beginning of the Portuguese Discoveries, the arrival in Ceuta happened. This is a Spanish city which is located in the north of Morocco, around 80 km from Tangier. After the conquest of Ceuta, the Portuguese had the goal to continue their expansion to Tangier, whose aim was to control a part of the Straits of Gibraltar and the commercial routes.

But the Portuguese attack in Tangiers was a debacle, with Prince Fernando (brother of the King of Portugal) ending up as a hostage as a guarantee that the demands of the enemy would be respected. D. Fernando died after 6 years of captivity and the Portuguese only entered Tangier in 1471, after 3 failed attempts of conquering it.

One of the very first measures conducted by the Portuguese was to create cutoffs in the walls, which reduced its overall perimeter to about ¼. The city remained as Portuguese until 1661, the year when it was given to the English (it was the dowry of the daughter of the Portuguese king, who married an Englishman). The English were expelled by Moulay Ismael in 1684.

In the 19th century, Tangier was the epicenter of a dispute between European nations.

The Conference of Algeciras settled the French and Spanish areas of influence, under the power of the Sultan.

In 1912, the Spanish colonial government took control of the northern part of Morocco, but Tangier was kept under an international administration. The depiction of an exotic and romantic city started to be constructed in cinema and literature. It was the home and the inspiration for Oscar Wilde, André Gide, Jack Kerouak, Williams Tenesee, Henri Matisse, Cecil Beaton, Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel, among others.

Morocco regained its political independence from France and Spain on March 2 of 1956 and Tangier was annexed to the Kingdom of Morocco.

It’s a bit different from the rest of Morocco. I must say that it’s not my absolute favorite. However, nonetheless, it’s very interesting to witness in the city the influence of all of its own history. Don’t miss the Coline du Charf or the Coline of Bella-Vista, or the cafes of the Place de France or Place de Faro and seize the whole harbor daily life. At night, you can see the lights of Spain…

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