Tangier, Morocco

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Tangier is a place that descended from the gods—its hilly setting makes it one of the possible real-world locations for the mythical Pillars of Hercules that flanked the Strait of Gibraltar and guarded the entrance to the Mediterranean. It has been a bustling port since antiquity, repeatedly fought over by everyone from the Phoenicians to the Arabs. Today, Tangier is every bit a modern Moroccan city, but until recently its history as an international zone—it was periodically under the administration of several countries—attracted a libertine counterculture of artists, musicians and writers such as Henri Matisse (who was drawn by the dazzling quality of the light), Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac and the Rolling Stones. Tangier now positions itself as a bridge between Europe and Africa, as well as the center of Morocco’s booming manufacturing industries. With a new port and a medina that’s been given a makeover, Tangier is the confident face of 21st-century Morocco—yet it’s still able to draw back the curtains far enough on its history to attract visitors.
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