When Tangier is mentioned, an air of mystery and the unusual is evoked. I was not dissatisfied as I strolled the meandering alleys of this Moroccan coastal city while motorcyclists whirred, automobiles honked, and tantalizing smells wafted from kitchens. When I first heard the muezzin’s beautiful call to prayer piercing the Medina’s air, I briefly had the feeling that I was a character in a noir movie.
Tangier cemented its image as a sanctuary for the criminal underworld and spies during the Second World War. James Bond and Jason Bourne would go to the city’s medina, a historic walled town within it, to escape the bad guys in the movies, enhancing this image.
Less than 17 miles across the Gibraltar Strait from Tangier, the Spanish mountains may be seen plainly from the city, reaching towards the clouds. Tangier has the most strategic location on the northern coast of Africa, perched along the constricting passage from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean.
Numerous airlines fly to Tangier, which is only a short boat ride from Spain. Fes, Marrakech, Rabat, and other places may be reached by efficient rail from Tangier. Travelers from the south are served by an expressway network recently built.
Here are some suggestions for your vacation to Tangier.
1. The American Legation
Morocco was one of the first nations to recognize the United States in 1786, and as a result, the two nations have had diplomatic ties ever since. The United States received the building that housed the American Legation from Sultan Moulay Slimane in 1821. Up to the end of World War II, American diplomacy in Morocco and the surrounding area was conducted from this location, which is now a museum. The only American national historic site outside of the country is the American Legation.
The Paul Bowles wing is located inside the legation. The author of The Sheltering Sky, a longtime resident of Tangier, has items from her life on exhibit.
2. Jewish History: The Moshe Nahon Synagogue
Archaeological findings show that Jews lived in Tangier as early as 500 B.C. Moshe Nahon, a well-known Tangier resident, constructed his temple in the medina in the nineteenth century. The beautiful embellishments of the synagogue were repaired after falling into decay in the 1990s. It is now a museum open every day except Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3. Following The Footsteps Of Artists And Writers
Artists, authors, and ex-pats have long been drawn to Tangier by its diverse population, closeness to the sea, and warm Mediterranean climate. Williams S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg—all Beat authors of the 1950s—found Tangier to be a source of creativity and an attractive way of life. While in Tangier, Henri Matisse created paintings while living at the Grand Hotel Villa de France.
Mark Twain visited Tangier before the Beats did, and Anthony Bourdain, the Rolling Stones, and other rock stars arrived in Tangier after the Beats departed to take advantage of the climate and way of life.
4. Caid’s Bar At El-Minzah Hotel
Caid’s Bar is tucked away downstairs in the El-Minzah Hotel. This former hangout for artists inspires Rick’s Bar in the Casablanca movie.
The servers were well-groomed, and piano music played in the background while smoke from cigarettes swirled over the old bar. If lounging in a smokey bar doesn’t appeal to you, there is an outdoor terrace that looks out into the pool.