What was my least favourite city in Morocco is now one of my favourites. All I needed was giving it a second chance to get charmed by it’s fierce beauty, ancestral authenticity and endless energy. Tangier has a lot to offer, especially the Old Town which has many hidden gems. This list provides 9 things to do in Tangier’s Old Town. Let’s rock the Kasbah together!
City: Tangier, Morocco
Ibn Battouta’s Grave
North African Berber by origins, Ibn Battouta is a famous figure among Moroccans and also an idol for many travellers worldwide. His travels have taken him all around North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He is buried in his hometown in Tangier. His grave is worth a visit in the Old Town. It is a small dome tucked between tiny colourful streets of the Medina. Go and pay a tribute to a fellow traveller! I made a live coverage of my visit on my Facebook page which you can watch here.
Relations between the United States and Morocco dates all the way back to early 18th century as Morocco was the first country to recognise the USA’s independence. The American Legation in Tangier is a leftover from the historic relations and a strong legacy in African soil. It is the only US National Historic Landmark located in a foreign country.
There’s a really nice museum inside with many items that witness of American and Moroccan cultural ties. The architecture is a magical blend between Colonial and Moroccan styles which directly reminds me of the movie Casablanca. Entry fee is 20 Dhs.
St Andrews Church
I did not go inside St Andrews Church as it was closed due to Christmas celebrations but I got a small peak from outside. It has strong British style which reflects on churches I see in London. However it looks smaller and matches the local design with a Mediterranean all-white facade. On top of it stands the English flag. This church is a legacy of the British presence in Tangier as the city was partly control by the British Empire.
As a cross-cultural city, Tangier represents all religions from all sects. As currently most people living in Tangier are Muslims, the Zaouia Issaouia is still in use by praticant Muslims. It is simply a mosque but also hosts a cultural center. This Zaouia was my favourite find in the Medina. It has a huge green door which clearly represents the colours and grandeur of Islam. It was unfortunately closed when I was there, I am guessing it is open during special occasions and Muslim festivals. But seeing the pretty green door was satisfying enough for me!
This is a cafe and restaurant with an exceptional terrace. It has panoramic views over the Kasbah and beyond all the way to Spain and Gibraltar across the sea. The food is alright, nothing outstanding but it’s not bad at all either. They offer good prices which match the quality. I had a chicken tagine with a drink for 100 Dhs. It’s a much cheaper alternative than many nearby restaurants.
All shades of blue are represented in this pretty restaurant, with many floors but the top floor has direct views over the ocean, adding another shade of blue to this foodie experience.
This is my own discovery! I found it without any recommendations and I am so proud of myself! Café Baba is a place where time stops. It feels just as if this café belongs to the 70s. It like time stops and then 40 years later, I enter the café finding it the same way it remained. That’s how authentic, original and unique this place is! I am sure every person who enters this café feels the same even though it’s 2017 now. I felt nostalgic about a past generation I never experienced. Over the grimy wall, there are many photographs of famous celebrities who smoked some kif or had Tangier’s famous mint tea in this café like Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones or even Kofi Annan.
Walking randomly in any Old Town is an enjoyable experience, particularly in Tangier. I walked in some really tiny streets to find a pretty house here, a bohemian café over there and meet friendly locals in between. The Old Town is clean and there is not harassment as in other Moroccan cities. It’s also best to go to residential areas to enjoy a quiet experience between radiant colours, a soft atmosphere and hypnotising smells of Tangier. The Old Town is a rich place to stimulate all your senses, so just get lost and enjoy!
Right outside the walls of the Old Town, there’s a historic cinema. It’s Cinema Rif. It has recently been refurbished so it looks pretty amazing! It’s possible to watch a movie there, usually in French. But there are many other options in Arabic or English. It’s a hit place for culture lovers and a young hipster generation.
Place du 9 Avril 1947
This place has a big fountain, a small garden and a lot of noise. It is indeed quite central between the Old Town, the New Town and busy shopping streets. But a walk around quickly makes you feel relaxed. The square was named Grand Socco before but its name was changed after King Mohamed V’s speech for independence was pronounced there on 9th April 1947.
If you look up, you might notice one of the most colourful mosque you’d ever see. Sidi Bou Abib Mosque was built in 1917 and is decorated by polychrome tiles. I was really surprised myself how pretty that mosque looks as it is very unusual to find Pink, Blue and Red in mosques in Morocco. But this is Tangier, everything seems to be allowed. A city of creativity, tolerance and coexistence.