Tangier and the North

At the top of Morocco Africa is at its nearest to Europe, a short hop across the Straits of Gibraltar, yet a world away. It is this distance, rather than the closeness, that dominates northern Morocco, the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta strange anomalies.

Tangier, one-time international city, is the most obvious example: despite its geographical closeness and ferry connections, it is a place characterized more by stasis than dynamic crossover; its most potent image that of young African men standing for hours gazing across the sea at a hazy Spain. The city's seafront and kasbah are full of the decadent ghosts of writers along with a great museum and people-watching cafés.

A short drive from Tangier is Ceuta, would-be Hong Kong of the Mediterranean and still a Spanish enclave. Inland from Tangier, Chefchaouen is a beautiful white- and blue-washed hill town, which, along with Ouezzane and Tetouan, reflects its links with Andalucía, long lost to the Moors. South of Ceuta is a string of small resorts: Restinga-Smir, Cabo Negro and Martil, along with many small fishing villages. Further east, Al Hoceïma, today a quiet Mediterranean resort, is a recent implant, a creation of the Spanish Protectorate of the first half of the 20th century and Melilla is another Spanish encave, more easy-going than Ceuta. The Rif, inland, is a land of wild and beautiful mountains with a history of strong independence.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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