Sneha Girap (Editor)


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Points of interest
American Legation - Tangier, Dar el Makhzen, Forbes Museum of Tangier, Cape Malabata, Grand Stade de Tanger

Tangier ( Arabic: ? Tanjah; Berber: ?????, Tanja; archaic Berber name: Tingi or Tinigi; Latin: ; French: ; Spanish: ; Portuguese: ; the major English-language dictionaries also accept the spelling Tangiers) is a major city in northern Morocco with a population of about 850,000 (2014 estimates). It is located on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Spartel. It is the capital of the Tangier-Tetouan Region and of the Tangier-Asilah prefecture of Morocco.


Map of Tangier

The history of Tangier is very rich, due to the historical presence of many civilizations and cultures starting from before the 5th century BCE. Between the period of being a strategic Berber town and then a Phoenician trading center to the independence era around the 1950s, Tangier was a refuge for many cultures. In 1923, Tangier was considered as having international status by foreign colonial powers, and became a destination for many European and American diplomats, spies, writers and businessmen.

The city is currently undergoing rapid development and modernization. Projects include new tourism projects along the bay, a modern business district called Tangier City Center, a new airport terminal and a new football stadium. Tangiers economy is also set to benefit greatly from the new Tanger-Med port.

Tangier morocco europe meets africa


Tangier in the past, History of Tangier

Tangier was founded by Carthaginian colonists in the early 5th century BC, on a former small Berber settlement.

Tangier in the past, History of Tangier

The Greeks ascribed its foundation to the giant Antaios, whose tomb and skeleton are pointed out in the vicinity, calling Sufax the son of Hercules by the widow of Antaeus. The cave of Hercules, a few miles from the city, is a major tourist attraction. It is believed that Hercules slept there before attempting one of his twelve labours.

The commercial town of Tingis (?????? in Ancient Greek), came under Roman rule in the course of the 2nd century BC (146 BC), first as a free city and then, under Augustus, a colony (Colonia Julia, under Claudius), capital of Mauritania Tingitana of Hispania (since 38 BC). It was the scene of the martyrdoms of Saint Marcellus of Tangier. Tingis was the main Roman city of Mauretania Tingitana in the fourth century and enjoyed huge development and importance. In the 5th century AD, Vandals conquered and occupied "Tingi" and from here swept across North Africa.

A century later (between 534 and 682), Tangier fell back to the Eastern Roman empire, before coming under Arab (Umayyad) control in 702. Due to its Christian past, it is still a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church. When the Portuguese, driven in good part by religious fervor, started their colonial expansion by taking Ceuta in 1415, Tangier was always a primary goal. They failed to capture the city in 1437 but finally occupied it in 1471 (see List of colonial heads of Tangier). A partial plan of the original kasbah (Arabic: ?????? al-qasbah) was found in 2009-12, in a Portuguese document now preserved in the Military Archives of Sweden in Stockholm (Krigsarkivet (Riksarkivet)). The Portuguese rule (including Spanish rule during the Iberian Union, 1580–1640) lasted until 1662, when it was given to Charles II of England as part of the dowry from the Portuguese Infanta Catherine of Braganza, becoming English Tangier. The English gave the city a garrison and a charter which made it equal to English towns. The English planned to improve the harbour by building a mole. With an improved harbour the town would have played the same role that Gibraltar later played in British naval strategy. The mole cost £340,000 and reached 1,436 feet long, before being blown up during the evacuation.

An attempt of Sultan Moulay Ismail of Morocco to seize the town in 1679 was unsuccessful; but a crippling blockade by his Jaysh al-Rifi ultimately forced the English to withdraw. The English destroyed the town and its port facilities prior to their departure in 1684. Under Moulay Ismail the city was reconstructed to some extent, but it gradually declined until, by 1810, the population was no more than 5,000.

The United States dedicated its first consulate in Tangier during the George Washington administration. In 1821, the Legation Building in Tangier became the first piece of property acquired abroad by the U.S. government—a gift to the U.S. from Sultan Moulay Suliman. In 1828, Great Britain blockaded the port in retaliation for piracy. It was bombarded by the French Prince of Joinville in 1844.

Italian revolutionary hero Giuseppe Garibaldi lived in exile at Tangier in late 1849 and the first half of 1850, following the fall of the revolutionary Roman Republic.

Tangiers geographic location made it a centre for European diplomatic and commercial rivalry in Morocco in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By the opening of the 20th century, it had a population of about 40,000, including 20,000 Muslims, 10,000 Jews, and 9,000 Europeans (of whom 7,500 were Spanish). The city was increasingly coming under French influence, and it was here in 1905 that Kaiser Wilhelm II triggered an international crisis that almost led to war between his country and France by pronouncing himself in favour of Moroccos continued independence.

In 1912, Morocco was effectively partitioned between France and Spain, the latter occupying the countrys far north and far south, while France declared a protectorate over the remainder. The last Sultan of independent Morocco, Moulay Hafid, was exiled to the Sultanate Palace in the Tangier Kasbah after his forced abdication in favour of his brother Moulay Yusef. Tangier was made an international zone in 1923 under the joint administration of France, Spain, and Britain under an international convention signed in Paris on December 18, 1923. Ratifications were exchanged in Paris on May 14, 1924. The convention was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on September 13, 1924. The convention was amended in 1928. The governments of Italy, Portugal and Belgium adhered to the convention in 1928, and the government of the Netherlands in 1929.

The International zone of Tangier had a 373 square kilometer area and, by 1939, a population of about 60,000 inhabitants.

Spanish troops occupied Tangier on June 14, 1940, the same day Paris fell to the Germans. Despite calls by the writer Rafael Sanchez Mazas and other Spanish nationalists to annex "Tanger espanol", the Franco regime publicly considered the occupation a temporary wartime measure. A diplomatic dispute between Britain and Spain over the latters abolition of the citys international institutions in November 1940 led to a further guarantee of British rights and a Spanish promise not to fortify the area. The territory was restored to its pre-war status on October 11, 1945. Tangier joined with the rest of Morocco following the restoration of full sovereignty in 1956.


Tangier Culture of Tangier

The multicultural placement of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities and the foreign immigrants attracted writer and composer Paul Bowles, playwright Tennessee Williams, the beat writers William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the painter Brion Gysin and the music group the Rolling Stones, who all lived in or visited Tangier during different periods of the 20th century.

Tangier Culture of Tangier

The writer George Orwell and his wife (travelling as Mr. & Mrs. Blair) visited Tangier in September, 1938. Orwell reported newspapers on sale: "La Press Morocain, strongly pro-Franco; Le Petite Morocain, impartial; La Depeche Morocain, somewhat pro-Franco; Le Journal De Tanger (sic), seemingly non-political; Tangier Gazette & Morocco Mail, an English weekly, slightly antifascist and strongly anti-Japanese." He also noted "There are four post offices, one French, one British, and two Spanish - Franco and government. Stamps are British surcharged Tangier. Coinage as in French Morocco."

It was after Delacroix that Tangier became an obligatory stop for artists seeking to experience the colors and light he spoke of for themselves—with varying results. Matisse made several sojourns in Tangier, always staying at the Grand Hotel Villa de France. "I have found landscapes in Morocco," he claimed, "exactly as they are described in Delacroixs paintings." The Californian artist Richard Diebenkorn was directly influenced by the haunting colors and rhythmic patterns of Matisses Morocco paintings.

Antonio Fuentes was born in Tangier in 1905 from a Spanish family. An article in La Gazette du Maroc described Antonio Fuentes as the Picasso of Tangier, and he died in the city 90 years later.

In the 1940s and until 1956 when the city was an International Zone, the city served as a playground for eccentric millionaires, a meeting place for secret agents and all kinds of crooks, and a mecca for speculators and gamblers, an Eldorado for the fun-loving "Haute Volee". During World War II the Office of Strategic Services operated out of Tangier for various operations in North Africa.

Around the same time, a circle of writers emerged which was to have a profound and lasting literary influence. This included Paul Bowles, who lived and wrote for over half a century in the city, Tennessee Williams and Jean Genet as well as Mohamed Choukri (one of North Africas most controversial and widely read authors), Abdeslam Boulaich, Larbi Layachi, Mohammed Mrabet and Ahmed Yacoubi. Among the best known works from this period is Choukris For Bread Alone. Originally written in Classical Arabic, the English edition was the result of close collaboration with Bowles (who worked with Choukri to provide the translation and supplied the introduction). Tennessee Williams described it as "a true document of human desperation, shattering in its impact." Independently, William S. Burroughs lived in Tangier for four years and wrote Naked Lunch, whose locale of Interzone is an allusion to the city.

After several years of gradual disentanglement from Spanish and French colonial control, Morocco reintegrated the city of Tangier at the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956. Tangier remains a very popular tourist destination for cruise ships and day visitors from Spain and Gibraltar.


Tangier is Moroccos second most important industrial centre after Casablanca. The industrial sectors are diversified: textile, chemical, mechanical, metallurgical and naval. Currently, the city has four industrial parks of which two have the status of free economic zone (see Tangier Free Zone).

Notable landmarks

  • Dar el Makhzen (Sultans palace)
  • Tangier American Legation Museum
  • Museum of Moroccan Arts and Antiquities
  • Museum of Contemporary Art (Tangier)
  • Fondation Lorin
  • Musee de Carmen-Macein
  • Tangier Grand Mosque
  • Petit Socco souk
  • Grand Socco
  • Hotel Continental (Tangier)
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception
  • Anglican Church of St. Andrew
  • Rue Es-Siaghine
  • Rue de la Liberte
  • Avenue Pasteur
  • Ancien Palais du Mendoub
  • Gran Teatro Cervantes
  • Quartier du Marshan
  • Colline du Charf
  • Parc de la Mendoubia
  • Cafe Hafa
  • References

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