History of Tangier, Morocco
Mythologically, Tangier is the place where Hercules slew the giant Antaeus and fathered a child (Sophax) by the giant's widow (Tinge) from which the name of the city originates from.
The city was established as a trade base for the Greeks and Phoenicians, who incidentally brought the hooded robes that became the traditional Moroccan jellaba.
Tangier was the capital of the Roman province Mauretania Tingitana. From there, like many of the other cities in Morocco it passed through the leadership of several various factions and forces- Byzantines, Berbers, Arabs, Portuguese, British, Spain, France and so on.
The Arabs gained control in around 705 AD and maintained control until the Portuguese captured the city in 1471. Two hundred years later the Portuguese gave the city to the British as a wedding gift for Charles II.
In 1679 Moulay Ismail attacked Tangier and drove the British out and the city was destroyed in many ways. The city remained in Moroccan control until the 19th century.
In the 19th century, with France and Spain controlling most of Morocco, Tangier was ruled an international zone. At this point Tangier was ruled in combination between a Moroccan ruler and the diplomatic agents of France, Spain, Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Italy and the US. Each party had its own banks, currency, post offices and shared in policing the city. Tangier remained an international zone until Morocco's independence in 1956.
As a result of being an international zone, Tangier attracted a wide variety of social characters- hedonists looking for pleasure, exiles looking to escape their own cultures, homosexuals looking for sexual freedom and artists and writers in search of cheap drugs. This group of ex-pats accounted for half of Tangier's population.
Among the ex-pats were literary figures like Oscar Wilde, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, Paul Bowles and Ian Flemming, where he cultivated his ideas for James Bond, movie stars like Errol Flynn and Marlene Dietrich, artists like Henry Matisse and Cecil Beaton, and the heiress of the Woolsworth fortune, Barbara Hutton.
When Morocco won its independence, there was a crackdown on the licentious living in Tangier, although there is a level that definitely still remains.
When Mohammed VI became the king, he unveiled a massive tourism development plan for the North of Morocco with Tangier as the jewel in the crown. Tangier has been developed into a busy international port, as well as having space for yachts and cruise ships and foreign investment is coming from both Europe and the Gulf.
Frommers Guide to Morocco
Lonely Planet Guide to Morocco
Historical and Notable Places to Visit
The Kasbah - The Kasbah hosts Dar el-Makhzen Museum, a former sultan's palace that now is filled Moroccan art.
The Museum of Moroccan Arts
The Cave of Hercules