Tangier Travel Guide

The city of Tangier is located in northern Morocco and lies along the North African coast at the western entrance of the Straight of Gibralter where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean meet at Cape Spartel.  With a population of approximately 669,680 people, Tangier is the capital of the Tangier-Tetouan region and also contains much history and plenty of beautiful places to see.


Tangier is an ancient town that was founded by Carthaginian colonists around the early 5th century B.C. and is believed to be derived from the Berber goddess named Tinjis.  However, the city still remains a very important city for the Berbers and is packed full of mythology.  Once such tale being that the city was built by Sufax, who was the son of Tinjis.

It is in the first century B.C. that Tangier, then known as Tingis, came under Roman rule.  The following century, Tangier became part of the Byzantine Empire before coming under the control of Arabs in 702.  Because of the heavily Christian path, Tangier is a primarily catholic city.

However, the history from the Middle ages when the Portuguese held the city from 1471-1580.  The Portuguese then unified with Spain and the city was held by the Spanish from 1580-1640 to only be occupied by the Portuguese again from 1640-1641.  It was in 1651 when the Portuguese gave Tangier to the English king Charles II as a dowry from Infanta Catherine of Barganza.  The city was then made equal to English towns by being issued a garrison and a charter.

It was during George Washington’s presidency that the first Consulate of the United States was dedicated in Tangier.  It was then in 1821 that the Legation Building became the first piece of property owned by the United States government as Sultan Moulay Suliman’s gift to the U.S.

It was in 1923 that Tangier became an international zone under Britain, France, and Spain and later joined by Italy in 1928.  During World War II, there was a period of Spanish control from 940 to 1945, but it was in 1956 that Tangier was finally reunited with the rest of Morocco after being restored to full sovereignty in 1956.


Tangier is comprised of many different people.  There are Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities and such artistic types such as Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Tennessee Williams, Brion Gysin, and the Rolling Stones have all lived or visited Tangier.  There’s also Allen Ginsberg and Orson Welles who felt drawn by the inspiring atmosphere.

There have also been a number of films such as the Bourne Ultimatum starring Matt Damon that have been filmed in Tangier.  With such events as the Tanjazz and International Jazz Festival, which will take place again from May 28th until June 1st, 2008, it is no wonder that there are so many artistic types attracted to Tangier.

What to see

A few miles away from the city, is the cave of Hercules, which is a very popular tourist attraction.  Other places to go are:

  • The Kasbah
  • The Museum of Moroccan Crafts and Antics
  • Beaches
  • Bay of Tangier
  • The old Markets
  • The Musee d’ Art Contemporain is where contemporary art can be seen
  • The old American Legation 
  • Cap Spartel and the Caves
  • Grand Socco

What other places are there to see?

  • Tetouan (37 miles from Tangier) - Is situated in the middle of a belt of orchards; there are many orange, pomegranate, cypress, and almond trees to see.  The beautiful Rif Mountains are also nearby.  The city is also located in the Martil valley and many of the Roman artifacts have been found there.
  • Chefchaouen (75 miles from Tangier) - Is situated within the Rif Mountains.  It contains an old and very small fortress and all of the houses and buildings are rinsed with blue.
  • Asilah (31 miles from Tangier) – All of the gateworks and ramparts are still intact and history dates back to 1500 B.C. when it was used as a base trade for the Phoenicians.  It is now a great seaside resort and hosts music and art festivals.

Where to stay

When visiting Tangier, it is a must to experience a Moroccan riad stay.  Great places to stay are:  the Riad Tanja, the Dar Nilam, and La Tangerina.  They provide such elegance and great service that the tourist may never want to leave.  However, good cuisine completes a Moroccan getaway with Hammandi Restaurant and Raihani’s Restaurant.  Combine a great place to stay with one of these great restaurants, and the sights and sounds of Tangier, and the tourist experiences one of the most perfect places within the world.  Chances are, leaving may not be an option.

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