Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tangier then and now (2)

Like any city in the world, Tangier has grown and evolved though the years and as for any city some changes have been good and some less so. 
Sanitation, roads and safety have made huge strides but some modernisation projects have taken some of Tangier's charm away. 
Old buildings are fighting to avoid the wreaking ball of developers and ancient old structures are battling the elements and the insults of time. Huge apartment complexes are springing up on the outskirts of the city to house the influx of workers coming  to town to fill the jobs on offer in this ever expanding city. 

The bay of Tangier has not been spared.
A postcard form the 50's of the bay...

...and now: the old buildings along the boulevard are still standing proud but one can see the modern high-rises behind them.

 The waterfront Boulevard has helped traffic and offers a great view of the sea but the tall buildings hide the hills beyond and block the view of Spain for those behind.

The Square of the Kasbah in the old days, also known as "La place du Mechouar". A Mechouar or "mashwar" served as a place to pledge allegiance to the Sultan. The custom consists in kissing the hands of the Monarch. (Wikepedia). 
The door a the centre of the painting leads to what used to be the Sultan's Palace and is now the museum.

Only a few changes have occured on this beautiful square at the heart of the Kasbah. There have been additions vertically to the buildings and three elegant palm trees adorn the entrance to the old Palais de Justice (the old court).
The arches of the building on the left have been closed by wrought iron doors and house Laure Welfling's shop, a French designer who sells lovely caftans in silk, linen and taffeta. Her husband who is an artist has paintings and stunning original potteries (the subject of a future blog) for sale there. And as everywhere, cars have invaded this historic space.

This old photo of the port shows the shore along the coast at the bottom left.

Now a waterfront four-lane road has taken its place. I did not care for it at first because I liked to see the tide come in and out at the bottom of the hill but now people stroll on the sidewalks in the evening and can view the sea as well as the kasbah. City traffic has been improved by the new road by avoiding the centre of town.

The new seaside road is simple and follows the coast and once the vegetation is fully grown, it will blend in quite nicely. All in all, a logistical if not aesthetically perfect change.

In the old days, the Place du Grand Socco was the main market place as in this photograph from the beginning of the last century.

Later on, it became a little more "civilised" with paving and alleys. Buildings grew upwards but the shops still flapped their awnings in the wind on the right of the postcard.

Now, the main gate is just as it was but buildings have grown again, this time to the right, a large marble fountain marks the centre of the square and tall palm trees sway gracefully in the breeze.

In the end, you cannot keep a city from evolving and while you may regret the "good old days" when everything was quaint and authentic, those who live there are grateful for any improvement to their daily life. The difficulty is, as  always, to find a balance between modernity and historical charm and beauty.

Photos: pinterest


  1. Lovely photos showing the growing pains of Tangier. It is hard to blend the old with the new, but Tangier seems to be trying to preserve the architecture as much as possible.

    1. Theresa, Thank you for dropping by. Tangier is a beautiful city and great efforts are made to try to maintain historical monuments but modernisation comes at a price as everywhere in the world.