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Travel: Tangier City, Morocco 4/6-9/2023

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Continuation of a trip which started:

4/5 - Seder Pesach in Tangier (part 1)

4/8 -Tetouan Chefchaouan (part 2)




Exploring Tangier



Over 2,500 years old, Tangier with its a beautiful mix of cultures and nationalities. is one of the oldest cities of Morocco. which also has retained its importance mainly due its strategic location, on the Strait of Gibraltar,

A mixture of North Africa, Spain, Portugal, and France Tangier .has been the portal to Europe and home to different cultures and religions., crucial to the trade between the two continents, Europe and Africa.


Between the celebrated Ramadan, with many locals not working, and Catholic Easter, as well as 3 cruise ships that moored during the days of our visit in town and purged a pour of vacationing Spaniards, and cruising tourists, it was a challenging task to find an available Tour guide or Taxi driver.,proficient in English .



At the last minute and a real effort Hamid the Tour Guide and Mostafa. the Taxi Driver

freed the time and agreed to take us around.


Mustafa - Taxi Driver- +212 623 2 569 30


Hamid Benamar Guide.hamid@gmail.com +212 668 55 56 ( highly recommended)



Hamid is licensed tour guide in Tangier, whom David hired on a previous visit to Morocco.. Hamid is quick, witty, knowledgeable and speaks English very well,

Until recently he worked for a reputable tour company called Vamous, which he left to start his own free-lance operation..


During the 3 hours we spent with him in the city's stunning surrounding outside of the old center,, we were exposed and educated on the following.





The city's neighborhoods nestled between the sea and rolling hills are very spread out, over the surrounding very lush light green landscape, which offers stunning sea views and colorful architecture..








It takes only 4o minutes to cross sail the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, from Tarifa. the southernmost end point of the Iberian Peninsula, to reach Tangier


Tangier is where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic ocean at

Cape Spartel and were many Civilizations clashed and left their marks.


The Cap is the most North Western point of mainland Africa. and it rises to a height of 326 m. at the top of Jebel Quebir where there is a tower, and a lighthouse




The cap is about 300 m above sea level at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, 12 km west of Tangier. center. and above the famous the Caves of Hercules.


The Greek mythology who knew the town and tell, till today the story of the

Caves of Hercules, where he supposedly rested on Cape Spartel during his labors,

and where. supposedly Tinjis (the Greek name of Tangier), daughter of Atlas and widow of Antaeus, slept with Hercules and bore him the son Syphax. After Tinjis' death, Syphax then founded the port and named it in her honor The gigantic skeleton and tomb of Antaeus were tourist attractions for ancient visitors. Before they were a tourist attraction they were brothels/


Left the Atlantic = Right the Med Sea


There is a lighthouse at the cape built in 1864 by Sultan Mohammed IV

Approximately a year after construction, the Sultan agreed to transfer responsibility for operating and maintaining the lighthouse to European powers, in accordance with the terms of an agreement signed by Morocco, Austria, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United States on May 31, 1865. It returned to Moroccan control after independence.



Tangier with its 1.3 Million inhabitants is Morocco's second most important industrial centers after Casablanca. with its 4 M inhabitants

.In 1856, Tangier had become the largest port in Morocco.

Tangier's economy relies heavily on tourism Seaside resorts have been increasing with projects funded by foreign investments, along with textile, chemical, mechanical, metallurgical and naval industries,

The city is chiefly famed for tangerines, a kind of mandarin orange hybrid.



Tangier has been a nexus for many cultures who influenced its history ,

Due to its Christian past before the Muslim conquest, it remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church


Founded as a Phoenician colony, starting from before the 10th C, BC .as a strategic Berber town and then a Phoenician trading center,

The Carthaginian developed it as an important port of their empire by the 5th BC .It became a Roman colony under Claudius, who made it the provincial capital of Mauretania Tingitana.



Vandals crossed into North Africa in 429 CE and occupied Tingis, then reconquered by under Byzantine emperor JustinianI, in 533 AD. With the Moslem invasion, the city under the Umayyads, served as the capital of the Moroccan district, while raids for slaves and plunder of the pagans Berbers was the practice even after their wholesale conversion to Islam.



The Portuguese captured Tangier in 1471 after several early failures, and erected In addition to the cathedral, also European-style houses and Franciscan and Dominican chapels and monasteries.

In the 17th C, it passed with the rest of Portugal's domains into Spanish control as part of the personal union of the crowns but maintained its Portuguese garrison and administration.




Iberian rule lasted until 1661,

The entire city of Tangier was part of a dowry given at the marriage of the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza ( infantaCatherine of Braganza.) to the British King, Charles II.

By 1662 a full English occupation was in practice the Portuguese residents nearly entirely left,, the town's Jews were driven out owing to fears concerning their loyalty , and the local mujahideen were fighting a holy war. against the English garrison.




In 1923, it became an international zone managed by colonial powers and became a destination for many European and American diplomats, spies, bohemians, writers and businessmen. That status came to an end with Moroccan independence, in phases between 1956 and 1960



By the early 21st C, Tangier was undergoing rapid development and modernization which included: modern business district called Tangier City Center, an airport terminal,

Tanger-Med port.- industrial port complex on the Strait of Gibraltar,, and tourism projects along the Tangier bay.







Park Perdicaris - The strange story of Jon Perdicaris

A public park covering 70 hectares in the Rmilat neighborhood

The son of the American Ambassador to Greece, Ion “Jon” Hanford,. Ion was born

to his mother - (the daughter of a wealthy land owning family in South Carolina) in Athens Greece in 1840. However, he largely grew up in New Jersey in the US.

A college dropout he ended in Europe




At 31 years old, when he was living in London studying electricity he began an affair with a married woman, Ellen Varley, that was quite the scandal of the day.

The two fled to Tangier as Ellen worked to secure a divorce.


By 1872, he had renounced his US citizenship, taken up Greek citizenship, and was living with Ellen and her four kids from her first marriage.


In 1887 he purchased 70 hectacres of forested property in the Rmilate Forest on the “Big Mountain” of west Tangier. It was here where Perdicaris built his famous

“Place of Nightingales.” He built a gallant house on a bluff in the middle of the domain fit for the most lavish parties, which he hosted as the unofficial head of Tangier’s expatriate community of the day.



The surrounding forested land he developed for Ellen, who was continuously ill with tuberculosis. The fresh air and the many diverse walks Perdicaris made for her around their domain are the very same reasons the Tangerines of today still flock to this spot.




Though his heart was in Tangier, Perdicaris’ business and other adventures took him around the world. One of his hobbies was to bring back wild animals and plants from different regions of his travels. Though the wild animals that formed his managerie haven’t thrived, the plants have.


Now a park, it it includes Eucalyptus trees from Australia, introduced in 1919, as well as California, Canary and Coconut palm trees. dragon trees, mimosas, pine trees, Mirbeck’s oaks, weeping willows, and silver poplars


The strangest turn of Perdicaris’ history includes also a kidnapping.

On May 18, 1904, Perdicaris and his stepson, Cromwell Varley, were abducted by

Moulay Ahmed Raisuli, a much-feared Moroccan bandit dubbed “The Last of the Sale Pirates.” Admired by his followers and championed as a local hero by many of his home region, Raisuli was a continual thorn in the side of Moroccan authorities.


A strange friendship developed between the kidnapper and the kidnappes ..which can be further read hear or watch the Hollywood movie of his Perdicaris’ kidnapping story with Sean Connery playing Moulay Ahmed Raisuli in The Wind and the Lion.




California Neighborhood








On the hilly West side landscape of Tangier and close by the Park there is an upscale neighborhood California where the affluent Moroccan foreigners and expats own/rent their upscale

gorgeous white villas.






From the elevated modern neighborhoods ion the West hills, proceeding down to where the once walled in old town begun, is a true culture shock.



The entrance to the medina is just in from of this important square


9 April 1947 Square commemorates the day on which Mohammed V announced the end of French rule and declared Tangier’s independence.



Medina the Old Town





The old town , near the 9 April 1947 Square a labyrinth of alleyways both commercial and residential, is still surrounded by the remains of what was once more than 1,829 m

of stone rampart from the 15th-c. and contains mosques, Synagues, Souks palaces. and many artisan stores.




The main entry gate to the Medina from the 9th of April Square






The Old Fortification Walls


Most of it dates to the town's Portuguese occupation fortress with restoration work later undertaken at different times.

Three major bastions were the Irish Tower (Bordj al-Naʿam), York Castle (Bordj dar al-Barud), and the Bordj al-Salam



Artisanal trade in the medina ("Old City") specializes mainly in leather working, handicrafts made from wood and silver, traditional clothing, and Moroccan-style shoes.





Jardin de la Mendoubia inside the medina THE MENDOUBIA GARDEN

The name is taken from the building it surrounds,- the Commercial Court.

The Mandoubia was created to house the offices and residence of the Mendoub, the permanent representative of the Sultan at the time when Tangiers was an international zone.. Pavilions of this prestigious building were used, in March 1941, as the headquarters of the German consulate.




. Grand Moaque of Tangier


While the design of the current historic main mosque (Friday mosque) of Tangier, mosque dates from the early 19th c it was reconstructed during the Alaouite period.

The site of the mosque is believed to have originally been the site of a Roman temple dedicated to Hercules and of a 5th-c Roman church.

A grand mosque (Friday mosque) was established on this site during the Marinid dynasty (13th-15th c














The small Square with Cafes at medina's center

known also as Souk Dakhel and consist of cafes restaurant pensions and hotels Tingis, Central, Al Manara and Tanger, , nothing great.







Dar Niaba Palace - now a Museum


Dar Niaba Palace was the first residence of Sultan Mendub’s ambassador. since 1840. The name refers both literally and metaphorically to the office of the Naib or representative of the Sultan of Morocco to the foreign communities in Tangier


This striking renaissance-style building first erected during the era of Portuguese Tangier, and From 1816 to 1849, it was the location of the French Consulate General,

It is one of the oldest in the Tangier medina., and since 2022 serves as a museum displaying exhibits on the diplomatic history of Tangier and a small art collection





Jews of Tangier


The first Jews migrated to Tangier after the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem and settled among the Berbers. Jews of Tangier were later met by a second wave of migration from the the Iberian Peninsula following the 1492 Alhambra Decree

This second wave changed Moroccan Jewry, as they largely embraced the Andalusian Sephardic liturgy, creating a population of Moroccan Jews that identified with a primarily Sephardic identity.

he Jewish presence in Tangier was limited until the late 17th century, when the Muslims regained control of the city from the English.

The Jewish community of Tangier along with the enlarged activities of the Sea Port, in the 19 C ( By 1856, Tangier had become the largest port in Morocco). flourished and established schools, hospitals, charitable works and businesses, while gaining political power. and administrative representation

Under the protection of Mohammed V who referred to the jews as “Moroccans and not only Jews.” the community further prospered in the 1940 on


Today, Tangier's Jewish community consists of about 60 Jews, down from a peak of 22,000, many of them having emigrated to mainly France, Israel

Jewish population in Morocco at large once exceeded 350 000.

Today, there is a vibrant community in Morocco which counts approximately 2000 – 2500 Jews .(m0re here)


Right outside the the medina's wall on the old Road to Rabat , a white tall wall mark the boundaries of the remarkable Jewish cemetery




Tangier Jewish Cemetery: The older of 2Jewish cemeteries in Tangier, referred to as the

“old cemetery” has move then one-thousand graves, some of which date back to the 16th C

There are many important individuals buried there. Owned by the Tangier municipality, the Jewish Cemetery is open to the public and has caretakers who oversee it. While the cemetery has somewhat fallen to ruins with a combination of erosion and water issues, the tombstones have been digitized to offer those interested the opportunity to search the remains there online. The tombstones are in Hebrew, Portuguese and French.










The tall white wall around the cemetery facing an alley leading toward the sea



The view of the bay from the Cemetery



The synagogues of Tangier are located in the city's mellah, mostly on the appropriately-named Synagogues Street-- Moshe Nahon Synagogue is the only one that remains open

4 of the Synagogues inside the medina.




Moshe Nahon Synagogue in Tangier:

Behind a non descriptive door, on Rue Synagogue is located the Moshe Nahon Synagogue built in the 1870’s

Moshe Nahon was a prominent banker, educator and a scholar from an financial Jewish family of Tangier.






This last remaining operating synagogue in Tangier is monumental and lavish, ranking among one of the most beautiful synagogues in Morocco. the Nahon Synagogue remained as a working place for Jewish prayer until it fell into despair in the lat 20th C Then in 1994 it was renovated revealing



Only the closed doors of the synagogues at the medina could be seen, when we walked the

Synagogue Rue





Moshe Nahon Rabbi Akiba Moshe Laredo Beit Yehuda Assyag



The tall white wall around the cemetery facing an alley leading toward the sea



Chaar Rafael Synagogue:

Located on 27 Boulevard Pasteur


Chaar Rafael is one of the last surviving synagogues and remnants of Jewish Heritage in Tangier. an owned villa which was built in 1919, and it was converted to a synagogue in 1954 when the owner, Raphaël Bendriahm died.



The hotels and modern residential section on the Eastern part of town by the Bay