One day in summer, my feet brought me to the streets of Tangier – the city which has influenced the people on their taste in arts, culture, and cuisine from around the world. Tangier is a mix of everything – partly because of the invasions of the Spanish, Muslims, Portuguese, and English.
A great many artists always look for inspiration for their work – and Tangier has served to be just that for many notable personalities, including Paul Bowles, Henri Matisse, William S. Burroughs, Paulo Coelho, Keith Richards, Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, painter Eugene Delacroix, and many others.
By visiting the city in summer, I understood what brings all the literary and artistic juice of the world here and I’d like to quote it in the words of William S. Burroughs,
“Tangier is on one of the few places in the world where, so long as you don’t proceed to robbery, violence, or some form of crude, antisocial behavior, you can do exactly what you want.”
I literally did what I could. Of course, I cannot talk about the “other things”, ahem, but I can tell you my 5 most favorite experiences there.
I have to say that I really did enjoy my time wandering here. Believe it or not, I spent close to 5 hours, one foot in front of the other. I stopped twice in some old cafes and ordered something strange. 😀
While passing through the gate of Kasbah and stepping into the large courtyard and then into the Dar el-Makhzen palace of the 17th century, I could notice how every atom of the place could speak volume of what they have been through. The intricacies of the Moroccan artwork pleased my eyes which changed into ecstasy as I stepped into the Café Detroit which has served to be the rallying point of most of the writers mentioned above.
Kasbah is only the northern delight of Medina. In all of its other extents, I saw a mix of culture, religion, and politics clad by the local vibe of Morocco. The pivot of the life that revolves around it is the Petit Socco, where I had a glimpse of the daily routines of the local Moroccans. I feel lucky enough to tread this playground of notable literary figures such as Jack Kerouac, Paul Bowles, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.
Just like I said, Medina has cradled many attractions that give you an understanding of the evolution of the city. For example, to the West, you’d see The Church of the Immaculate Conception which was built in 1880 by the Spanish, to the East you’d be greeted by the Grand Mosque, and to the Southeast, the American Legation would welcome you into its historic folds.
One of the most famous coffee cafés in Tangier, just like the Café Detroit, the Gran Café de Paris also served as a vortex for the foreign literati of Tangier. It faces the astonishing Blvd Pasteur and offers refreshingly hot delights to help you sooth your weary nerves and get a shoe shine. The outdated photos on the wall will give you a glimpse of the city and the cafe’s glorious past.
Have you read the Alchemist? In it, Paulo Coelho talks about the African scents coming all the way from the town of Tangier after passing the lazy Mediterranean. Well, I might be wrong to say that those scents invariably originate in Pac Perdicaris where the trees of walnut, acacias, pine, palms, various types of eucalyptus and the Portuguese gifts let their leaves flutter in the breeze of Tangier. This 165-acre land was originally owned and built by a wealthy American called Ion Perdicaris for his ailing wife; and so, it derives its name from him.
Tangier is a harbor city that links Africa to Europe and obviously, there’s a beach. Although I’ve seen only a few people there (at mid afternoon), I thinks it’s a wonderful place to hangout at the end of the day. I walked the long stretch of the Waterfront and got inside McDonalds to escape the heat. 😀
Tangier is a culmination of ideas of the invaders, literary figures, and the locals. While these were my favorite things to do and places to see, I’m sure you’d find them nice wonderful, too.
Hands down to Hotel Mamora – right in the middle of the city’s old medina. The room was basic to me but clean enough. What I love about this hotel is their restaurant which is overlooking the kasbah and the port. It’s walking distance to all the places mentioned above. And from here, you can walk to the port where the ferry to Spain docks.