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Despite a wave of development, Tangier still retains the raffish charm it enjoyed as an International Zone from 1912 to 1956. Its radiant light, picturesque medina and fine views over the straights of Gibraltar have attracted artists and writers from Matisse to Paul Bowles and the Beat poets. Read more
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Tangier has a mythology all of its own. In part, this is derived from its strategic position on the edge of the Mediterranean. But mostly it comes from being a jumping off point for oddballs, eccentrics and migrants. It is neither Europe nor Africa, but somewhere in between. With the recent upsurge in trade and tourism, Tangier’s faded hotels, corniche and beach area are seeing a new lease of life. The Grand Socco, the entrance to the medina, is a great place to take stock of the city’s charms – and its characters.
The coastline around Tangier is being rapidly developed, with huge resorts springing up on the Mediterranean side. However, you can make an interesting day trip to the Hispanic enclave of Ceuta, a vestige of the Spanish empire complete with tapas and churches. To the west of Tangier, on the north-western tip of Africa, Cap Spartel is a great vantage point to sit and stare at the Atlantic. In the Roman times (and indeed until the voyages of exploration of the 15th century) this point, near the site of the fabled Pillars of Hercules, marked the limits of geographical knowledge. Outside, there was ne plus ultra: nothing further beyond.