Tanger

At the northernmost tip of Morocco on the Strait of Gibraltar stands Tangier, city of intrigue and romance, a draw for decades of spies and smugglers, beloved by artists and writers. This is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Morocco.

Founded by Phoenecians, it became the important Roman port of Tingit. For many years in the 20th century until Moroccan independence in 1956, it was an international zone administered by eight countries with free trade and no tax which attracted international commerce. During the Second World War it became a busy focus of espionage for both sides.

It was ruled alternatively in the 15th and 16th centuries by the Portuguese and the Spanish and, for a short time, the English, in 1661. Today it is a lively and unconventional city which over the years has attracted such diverse characters as Errol Flynn, underwater explorer, Jacques Cousteau, Elizabeth Taylor and a steady flow of international writers, American beat poets and famous British painters. It was also a safe haven for remittance men, smugglers and characters trying to lose themselves in a foreign clime.

The city looks out on sparkling sea, has a medina spread below the Kasbah with its Grand Socco-a market place and Petit Socco with a small café-lined square where the composer Camile Saint-Saens once lived.

Tangier is entrancing and is a splendid base for day trips to the lighthouse at Cap Spartel, the extreme north-west corner of Africa, and the Caves or Grottoes of Hercules where the blue Atlantic surges into natural caverns.

Trips to the eastern side take in CUETA (SEBTA), a Spanish enclave for several centuries, also the enchanting resort of CABO NEGRO.

Discos, splendid restaurants, night clubs, museums and facilities for yachting, flying, riding, golf and tennis make Tangier a very modern attraction.

In most countries you ring the changes by visiting different areas. In Morocco you are spoiled for choice. There’s the High Atlas where flat-roofed villages are built against the mountain faces and resemble the Himalayas. On the coasts there are dunes and often Portuguese or Dutch fortifications round white townships and villages that fringe the Atlantic south from Casablanca.