A marvellous chaos
The traditional souks
The Grand Socco

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The fragrance of spices and the flavours of the tajine

Tangier’s strategic location has made it a highly sought-after locale since ancient times. The layout within Tangier’s Medina, like most throughout Morocco, was never planned in advance. As the need arose, a labyrinth of streets and small squares emerged that eventually became the various quarters there today.

The Grand Socco offers the most straight forward approach to the Medina, a gentle open space waiting to be value on an MSC Mediterranean cruise excursion. The arch at the northern corner of the square opens onto Rue d’Italie, which becomes Rue de la Kasbah, the northern entrance to the kasbah quarter. Through an opening on the right-hand side of the square is Rue es Siaghin, off which are most of the souks and at the end of which is the Petit Socco, the Medina’s main square.

Enjoy your cruise holiday in Tangier following the American steps, west of the port, where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, up from Avenue Mohammed VI, walk round by the Grand Mosque, and Rue des Postes (Rue Mokhtar Ahardane) will lead you into the Petit Socco. Rue es Siaghin – Silversmiths’ Street – connects Grand Socco with the smaller Petit Socco, and was Tangier’s main thoroughfare into the 1930s. Many of the buildings along here were constructed by Europeans in the late 1800s, with windows and balconies looking out onto the street rather than the traditional inward-looking Medina architecture.

Looking at it today, the Petit Socco seems too small ever to have served such a purpose, though up until the nineteenth century the square was almost twice its present size, and it was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that the hotels and cafés were built. Up until the 1930s, when the focus moved to the Ville Nouvelle, this was the true heart of Tangier, and a broad mix of people would gather here daily.

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    Traditions and tourism
    Traditions and tourism

    cruise to Morocco is ripe with immediate and enduring fascination. Though just an hour across the sea from Spain, it seems at once very far from Europe, with a culture – Islamic and deeply traditional – that is almost wholly unfamiliar.

    Throughout the country, despite the years of French and Spanish colonial rule and the presence of modern and cosmopolitan cities like Rabat and Casablanca, a more distant past constantly makes its presence felt. Fez, perhaps the most beautiful of all Arab cities, maintains a life still rooted in medieval times, when a Moroccan kingdom stretched from Senegal to northern Spain, while in the mountains of the Atlas and the Rif, it is still possible to draw up tribal maps of the Berber population.

    As a backdrop to all this, the country’s physical make-up is extraordinary: from the Mediterranean coast, which you’ll get to know during your MSC cruise to Morocco, through four mountain ranges, to the empty sand and scrub of the Sahara.

    The coast is best enjoyed in the north at Tangier, Asilah and Larache, and in the south at El Jadida, Essaouira. Inland, where the real interest of Morocco lies, the outstanding cities are Fez and Marrakesh. The great imperial capitals of the country’s various dynasties, they are almost unique in the Arab world for the chance they offer to witness city life that, in patterns and appearance, remains in large part medieval.