Kasbah Museum of Mediterranean Cultures
This museum is now in Dar El Makhzen, which used to be the sultan’s palace. It has just been fixed up. The region’s history from prehistoric times to the 19th century is highlighted. Only French and Arabic are well-presented in the exhibits. Work your way around the first courtyard counterclockwise before going inside to see the rest of the presentations, then take a stroll through the lovely Andalusian garden.
The mosaic of Venus from Volubilis, the sculpture, and the enormous replica maps are some of the highlights. The second is a stunning map of the known world created in Tangier in 1154 (hint: it’s upside down from the viewer’s perspective). The first map shows trade routes from the Phoenician trade in metals to the electronic goods of the twenty-first century. The museum is located inside the medina; to get there, walk around the outside to the westernmost point and highest point of the city. Then, enter through the Bab Kasbah gate and proceed along the road to the museum.
Tangier American Legation Museum
This museum, housed in a graceful five-story mansion, is a must-see because Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States by opening its ports to the young nation in 1777. This museum is the only US National Historic Landmark on foreign soil.
There are some odd exhibits, like a Moroccan Stars and Stripes carpet and a letter from an unfortunate US consul who received two lions as a diplomatic gift in 1839. The museum also has a striking collection of paintings that offer a glimpse into Tangier’s past as seen through the eyes of its creators, including the so-called Moroccan Mona Lisa, a hypnotic painting of James McBey’s servant girl, Zohra, by the Scotsman. A wing honouring American author Paul Bowles and a small bookshop is present.
Some of the highlights are the statues, the mosaic of Venus from Volubilis, and the enormous replica maps. The first map depicts trade routes from the Phoenician metal trade to the 21st-century trade in electronic goods, while the second is a stunning map of the known world created in Tangier in 1154 (hint: it is upside down when viewed from the viewer’s perspective). The museum is located inside the medina; to get there, follow the perimeter to the westernmost point, which is also the city’s highest point. Then, enter through the Bab Kasbah gate, and the road will lead you to the museum.
The Grand Socco, a sizable, sloping plaza surrounded by palm trees and featuring a central fountain before the Bab Fass keyhole gate, is the romantic entrance to the medina. The cobblestone circle, which once housed a significant market, today serves as the taxi standoff and the boundary between the present and the past.
Climb the stairs to what locals just refer to as La Terrasse at the highest point on the circle, across from the huge tan structure (the police station), for the best ground-floor view. In a cafe up here, folks enjoy playing croquet all day (a widely popular Spanish board game). You came here for one of those surreal moments when you feel as though you’ve stepped onto a movie set.
The medina, Tangier’s main draw, is a maze of residential and commercial passageways. The Portuguese defensive walls from the 15th century surround it, yet most of the structures are rather modern for a Moroccan medina. The area is brimming with traveler’s finds and provides a window into traditional life. Sadly, here more than almost everywhere else in Morocco, local touts can be a nuisance.
When it came to drug trades and all types of prostitution, this was once the most notorious intersection in Tangier. Today there are many tourists, freshly painted facades, and a lovely square for people watching while sipping mint tea.
St Andrew’s Church
One of Tangier’s most endearing anomalies is St. Andrew’s Church. The interior of this Anglican church, which was finished in 1894 on land provided by Sultan Hassan, is adorned in high Fassi style, with the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic over the altar. A cleft with Quranic verses carved into stone is located behind the altar and points in the general direction of Mecca.
The cemetery is worth spending some time there. There is a memorial honoring Squadron Leader Thomas Kirby Green, one of the prisoners of war who was killed during the “Great Escape,” as well as the journalist, Moroccan explorer, and Tanjaoui aristocratic Walter Harris, who is buried here. A somber area of war burials for completely downed aircrews with their headstones shoulder-to-shoulder is also there. Yassine, the caretaker, is constantly on duty and is happy to give you a tour.
There used to be 27,000 Jewish citizens and 17 synagogues in Tangier. The only synagogue still open to the public is Nahon, even though it is a stunning building. Over the main sanctuary, intricate bronze lights hang, and wine-colored drapes cover the Torah (Hebrew Bible) on the bema (stage). A display of ketubah (marriage contracts) from couples who were married here is located upstairs.
Musée de la Fondation Lorin
An old synagogue now houses this fascinating museum. You will find a spacious 2-story chamber with an interesting display of black-and-white images of Tangier from the 19th and 20th centuries here. In the meanwhile, the center might be hosting a performance of children’s theater. The museum also serves as a workshop for underprivileged children, giving the static display some life.