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GLOBAL MOROCCO EXPLORATION DAY TOURS
Tangier, city of inspiration
Tangier – Larache- Asilah
Few kilometers from Spain at the crossroads of seas and continents, where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic and Europe meets Africa, rests the city of Tangier facing the sea. There is something altogether unique about the town. Henri Matisse called Tangier “the painter’s paradise”, and when Eugène Delacroix first experienced the city, he exclaimed, “I’ve just been looking around the town, and at the moment feel like a man caught up in a dream seeing things he is afraid will finally escape him”. Paul Bowles referred to it as a “dream city”, and no visit will deny that. Few hours in visiting Tangier will make you fall in love with it.
Tangier was well-known for trade with major centers such as Marseilles, Genoa, Venice and Barcelona. The Portuguese took over Tangier in 1471. In 1661 is was given as part of dowry at the marriage of Charles II with Catherine of Braganza. The Alaouite dynasty won back Tangier in 1684 during the reign of Moulay Ismaël.
In 1925 Tangier became an international zone under the rule of the Sultan of Morocco. It is at this era that Tangier witnessed it golden age. It gained the romantic reputation by movie makers and authors
Tangier’s history goes back to the ancient Phoenician settlement. However, the city was established by the Carthaginians in the 4th century BC, as the trading-post of Tingi which became part of the Kingdom of Mauritania that was allied to Rome and ruled by Juba II. Under Emperor Claudius, the kingdom became a Roman colony, Tingitan Mauritania, with Tingis as its capital.
When the Arabs came in 706 AD, Tangier was taken by the Omayyads Moussa Ibn Noussair. In 711 Tarik Ibn Ziad’s army started out to conquer Spain.
In the eras that followed, Tangier became a coveted prize of the Idrissid and Umayyads in Spain, and then between the Almoravids, Almohads and Merenids – a prize as well as Portugal.
Now with Tangier-Med port linking the Kingdom’s motorways with the seaway of the Straits – a second golden age is about to begin!
Arrival to Tangier airport or port and transfer to your boutique Riad in the Kasbah of Tangier. After some refreshment, your guide will take you for a journey of learning. Start your tour with the Kasbah which is Tangier’s heart and soul, an impressive fortification with walls overlooking the medina and the whole city.
You will access it from the Grand Socco via rue d’Italie and uphill along rue de la Kasbah. This is a district of venerable palaces, accommodating some truly superb residences. In Place de la Kasbah, the Sultan’s palace, “Dar el Mekhzen”, houses a museum of Moroccan arts, while the palace next door, Dar Chorfa, is home to a museum of antiquities and archaeology. Stop for a coffee at the Café du Détroit, which takes its name from the magnificent views of the Straits to be taken from its terrace. The Grand Socco (Spanish for souk) at the entrance to the medina is undoubtedly the busiest part of the city. Its square is bordered by the former residence of the Mendoub (the Sultan’s representative) and its park. The Mendoubia Park is splendidly laid out, dominated by a giant banyan tree, and graced with a multitude of venerable dragon trees. It is the Mendoubia Park, that King Mohammed V delivered his 1947 speech declaring Moroccan Independence. Tangier was to keep its special status until 1960. The Rue des Siaghines (“jewellers’ street”) leads to the Petit Socco, a picturesque little square surrounded by hotels and cafes that served as second homes to the city’s celebrities – Paul Bowles, Jean Genet, Paul Morand, Pasolini, and Camille Saint-Saëns among them. Leaving the Petit Socco, rue de la Marine takes you to Bab el Bahr (“the door to the sea”), guarded by a pair of borjs (fortified towers), one of which, Borj el Mosra, is decked with giant cannons. Down below, the fishing port is the scene of non-stop activity, orchestrated by the cries of the seagulls wheeling above.
Have a cap of mint visit in Café Hafa. The cafe enjoys a unique location, clinging to the cliffside in the shade of gardens and terraces and with panoramic views of the Mediterranean on the right, the Atlantic on the left, and the Andalusian coastline across the Straits. It first opened its doors in 1920 and has since been frequented by such famous names as Paul Bowles, the Rolling Stones and Randy Weston. Legend has it that the Beatles, Bob Marley and Sean Connery have all savored mint tea there, along with the breath-taking view.
Visit The American Legation Museum. In 1777, Morocco became the first country to officially recognize the United States of America as an independent nation. In 1821, in order to seal this new-found friendship, the Sultan, Moulay Slimane, gifted the legation to the American diplomatic mission, and it remains the only monument belonging to the United States outside their national territory. The vast residence was built in the 18th century, restored in 1920, and turned into a museum in 1956, conserving a varied collection of works tracing Tangier’s history from the 17th to the 20th century.
Visit Ibn Battouta Tomb, the grave of the city’s most emblematic son. Ibn Battouta’s tomb is to be found high up in the medina, in a little street in the Fuente Nueva district. The celebrated traveler, pilgrim, explorer and ambassador, an indefatigable scholar open to the world at large, was born in Tangier in 1304, and set off to make the pilgrimage to Mecca as an inexperienced young man of 22. The journey was to mark the beginning of one of the most extraordinary adventures of all time!
Ibn Battouta is often compared to the somewhat better-known Marco Polo. They were, however, men of very different character. While Marco Polo and his brothers set out to explore unknown lands for commercial reasons, Ibn Battouta travelled in search of knowledge – which didn’t stop him from covering a considerably greater distance than his illustrious predecessor!
Visit Kasbah museum of Mediterranean culture is located on top of the hill in the medina. Kasbah actually means the citadel or fortress of a village. It is usually located at the highest point for defense purposes.
The Kasbah Palace is in the eastern part of the Kasbah in a strategic position. It was used by both the Carthaginians and the Romans. This was the site of the governors of the city as early as the 12th century. The Portuguese governors resided here between 1471 and 1661. From 1662 to 1684, a larger castle was the residence of British governors.
Ahmed Ben Ali who fought against the English occupation in 1684 built the current palace that houses the museum. Since 1737, this structure has been the seat of power and the symbol of local authority. In 1922, the Kasbah Palace became a museum. Inside the museum, you will see a typical Moroccan style palace. It features zellij coating, carved plaster, painted and carved wooden dome. The large patio is decorated in white marble indicating their European origin
Have lunch at restaurant run by women association Darna located in Grand Succo
Continue and visit Boulevard Pasteur which the new town’s main street. It leads to Place Faro, a vast terrace protected by antique cannons and affording magnificent panoramic views of the port, the bay, and the distant Spanish coastline. Locals spend hours on end there, contemplating the sea glittering in the sunlight and the graceful ballet of the ships navigating the Straits – earning the square its nickname of “Sour Al Maâgazine”, which roughly translates as “wall of laziness”. From there, rue Anoual takes you down to the astonishing Art Deco edifice of the Gran Teatro Cervantes. The theatre first opened its doors in 1913 and was the largest of its day in North Africa, boasting 1400 seats and equipped with cutting-edge stage machinery. Its boards have been walked by countless great performers, Lola Flores for one.
B&B accommodation in a boutique riad in the Kasbah of Tangier
After breakfasting your driver will take you for a panoramic visit of Tangier’s city located between two seas to see the twin capes, Hercules cave and Rmit forest.
Start with The Caves of Hercules. Located on the Cape Spartel massif off the Atlantic coast, the Caves of Hercules are natural limestone formations, their damp and somber interiors lit by a single passageway giving on to the ocean, the entrance to which bears an extraordinary resemblance to an outline map of the African continent. The caves are Tangier’s most popular tourist attraction, a truly out-of-the ordinary experience on account of their beauty, major archaeological interest, and mythological significance. According to the Ancient Greeks, it was here that Hercules came to rest after completing his 12 labors. The legend states that it was the demigod himself who created the Straits of Gibraltar, parting the mountains and bringing Jbel Tarik (Gibraltar) into being on one side and Jbel Moussa on the other. Myth is only a step away from reality...
Continue to twin capes symbolizing entry into the city of Tangier: Cape Spartel on the Atlantic side and Cape Malabata on the Mediterranean. Cape Malabata, facing east towards the rising sun, is planted with pines and low trees and affords a 180° view over the Straits of Gibraltar. A little further on, you come to that decidedly strange edifice, Malabata castle, which, despite its medieval-style architecture, was actually built in the early 20th century. Cape Spartel is topped by a lighthouse put up in 1965 and is the perfect spot from which to experience the sun setting over the ocean. On the way there, it’s well worth taking the time to stop off at the Perdicaris park of Rmilat forest.
The park is furrowed by small shady alleys where the delicate scents of eucalyptus, black pine and Mimosa are floated. The water from the source that flows there would have therapeutic virtues...
This park bears the name of a wealthy American diplomat, John H. Perdicaris, owner of the land, who came to settle there. He redesigned the park by planting all kinds of exotic plants and built a house of architecture influenced by the cosmopolitan aspect of the city at the time. The whole park integrates perfectly with the harmony of the landscape.
After that drive to charming Asilah. It has a charm all of its own, its white houses with their touches of brilliant blue and subtle green distinguishing it from other towns in the region. Music fills its streets, paintings bring its medina walls to vibrant life, and, every summer, its International Cultural Festival provides a rich program of theatre, dance, and concerts. A strategically located port, Asilah has passed through Roman, Spanish and Portuguese hands, and its bastions, towers and defiant walls make for some pleasant walks along a shoreline dotted with restaurants serving excellent cuisine based on fresh local fish
Back to Tangier, B&B accommodation in a Boutique Riad.
Have breakfast and head to Larache. Located 90 km south of Tangier, Larache lies at the mouth of Oued Loukkos. The Kasbah, with its winding archwayed streets, was built in 1491, and was once a pirate stronghold. The town center features some fine examples of Andalusian architecture, and Jean Genet’s grave can be visited in the Spanish cemetery at the end of the corniche. The pinewood that begins just 500 meters from the central square stretches for kilometers along the ocean shoreline.
After lunch continue your visit and explore the ruins of Lixus. It is the site of an ancient Roman-Berber-Punic city located north of seaport of Larache on the bank of the Loukkos River. The location was one of the main cities of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana.
Back to Tangier , B&B accommodation in a Boutique Riad.
After breakfast drive to the heart of the Rif mountains in search of the blue pearl Chefchaouen. Start exploring the blue medina of Chefchaouen. Its medina is small, but authentic: wander through its alleys to blend with the locals and take in the smells of everyday life, such as bread hot out of the oven and expertly prepared tagines.
Continue to the source Ras El Mae where to enjoy the waters murmurs and watch the locals using the river’s water as a fridge for orange juice. Ras el-Maa River would pass along the eastern fringes of the medina of Chefchaouen before eventually emptying out into the Mediterranean Sea. In the old days, traditional water mills were all along the river functioning with water power.
Continue your exploration to the Kasbah right in the middle of the historic district, whose lush gardens are a cool haven in the heart of the city. The Kasbah was the nuclear part around which the old medina evolved due the arrival of The Moorish people expelled from Andalucía because of their religious beliefs. The Kasbah was built in 1471 by Mouly Ali Ben Rachid, the founder of the city of Chefchaouen
Relax over a cup of mint tea in the Big Square Outa Hammam, the heart of the medina, facing the Great Mosque with its unique rectangular shape.
Continue to Souika, the former Jewish quarter Mellah, now lined up with numerous shops of local handicrafts and Goldsmith. The Jews original work. The Jews settled here in the early sixteen centuries when they were expelled from Spain and were welcomed by the Mouly Ali Ben Rachid.
Have you lunch is nice restaurant serving local dishes and don’t miss a taste the goat cheese one of the specialty of the region
Back to Tangier B&B accommodation in a boutique Riad in Tangier Medina