Africa Morocco Tangiers Travel

Tangiers: Time Travel in the Medina

Walking through the narrow and winding streets of the Medina, the tour guide strictly calls out “No photos!” unless he grants permission, usually involving an opportunity for a sale, a tip or some gratuity. After all, the ancient part of Tangiers is the home of generations of Moroccans before it is a wondrous place of time travel for visitors.

Medina Walls

Entering through the walls of the ancient city, you are assailed with sights, sounds and smells that acclimatise you to the experience ahead. You become an observer in time absorbing what makes up life to the people who inhabit the Medina.

You step through narrow alleyways, take in varied architecture with high walls, colourful houses, bright green shutters against white buildings and decorated gates. Your rub shoulders with the flow of people going about their daily activities. You pass through archways towards rows of shops and local men sitting in outdoor cafés. You marvel at the markets that serve the inhabitants of the Medina and their display of fresh produce, meat, shoes, eggs and clothes on the streets.

Medina Walk

You move up and down several stairs, look high above into the windows of dwellers, take careful steps down steep inclines and sneak in a vantage view of the city ahead. You smile at the young children peering from behind their windows as they echo “hello hello” to the Indian file of tourists that pass by their homes. Without the opportunity for photography, stealth becomes your friend as you endeavour to capture a memory or two.

Medina Performers

Your tour guide inevitably takes you to souvenir shops, with knickknacks mostly designed to make a quick Dirham. You feel compelled to buy something but you must haggle even if the savings are not worth the effort, as this is the way of the Medina. You watch a detailed presentation of Moroccan and Berber rugs for those wishing to take home an item in saffron coloured threads, royal colours, mosaic patterns or a piece of gypsy craft. You sit quietly through a serious lecture from a traditional pharmacist who explains in fluent English about his collection of ground powders and exotic roots in glass jars.

When you emerge from the Medina and into the streets of Tangiers, you sense a slight disorientation as sounds of modernity echo with cars horns. The sights of tour buses and the buzz of people remind you that your trip in time is over.

And when you take that last look at the city behind you, with its soaring minarets, dusty coloured buildings and stunning Islamic architecture, you can only bid it Shukran for the experience.


Inconspicuous camera footage of the walk through the Medina.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.


  • Thanks for a sneak peek into Tangier’s old city. So beautiful!! I would have had a hard time doing this walking tour with the “No Pictures” policy, when I am such a trigger happy gal! But thanks for doing all the “hard work” with your camera. 🙂

    • Jen – As much as I respect their traditions, the photographer in me started to fret the minute he announced no photos. I don’t mind paying something for a photo opportunity like the scene with the musicians but that was staged. I prefer to get a chance at capturing the soul of the place, particularly in a place like the Medina.