The Cities of Morocco:  Agadir, Casablanca, and Tangier

2023 HAL World Cruise

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, April 4, 6, 7, 2023

After the beautiful sojourn in the Canary Islands, the MS Zuiderdam sailed to North Africa (commonly considered to include Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya).  Specifically, we visited three cities in historic, exotic, and mysterious Morocco. 

Agadir was the first.

This is a city we had never visited.  And that fact surprised us.  Agadir is a major, vibrant, highly populated Moroccan city.  We have traveled in, around, and about Morocco since the 1980s.  Why not Agadir???  Mmmm, perhaps the earthquake.  On February 29, 1960, at 11:40pm a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the environs of Agadir.  The main shock collapsed hotels, apartments, markets, and office buildings.  Underground watermains ruptured; the Kasbah crumbled on the side of the hill; 15,000 people died; 12,000 were injured; and 35,000 were left homeless.  The huge extent of damage is blamed on the earthquake’s shallow focus, its proximity to the port, and the unsatisfactory construction methods used in the past. 

The city was destroyed.

The Moroccan Army provided emergency aid, and helicopters arrived from the Ben Guerir Air Base.

Military planes from France and the United States flew into Agadir to assist with the relief effort.

Since 1960, Agadir has rebuilt about 1mile south of its prior location; there are now more than half a million inhabitants; the beach is roughly 6 miles long and is a thriving resort area.  Agriculture thrives around the city, but tourism and fisheries are the main components of Agadir’s economy.

 Today, Agadir is one of the major urban centers of Morocco. 

 And it remains situated atop three major faults.

Here are some photos:

This was Agadir after the earthquake in 1960.
(Universal Studios, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)
And this is Agadir today!!! It is now about a mile further south than prior to the earthquake. And, of course, it is much larger than in 1960. However, the construction is now held to more rigid standards.
This photo of Agadir was taken from the Agadir Ou-fellah Kasbah (as were the two prior photos). Much of the structure, originally built in 1572, has been lost but much has also been repaired or reconstructed.
This photo shows a section of the Kasbah wall that was reconstructed.
And here you can see the method used to give the structure strength and a little necessary “give” to withstand another earthquake.
Here’s a close-up of the reconstruction.
The grassy area below the Kasbah covers the remains of old Agadir and constitutes a mass grave for all those who died in the 1960 Earthquake. Today, a 5-minute Gondola ride will take you from the base to the hilltop.
So as you’ll see, once we had entered the port and docked, we set out on full-day tour. The Kasbah was, in fact, our first stop!!!
Next: the Mohamed V Mosque. We were not allowed to enter the mosque–especially since it was still Ramadan at the time!!!
Moving on, we next visited the Souk El Had for a little shopping. This is the biggest market in the city and is popular with both locals and tourists!!!
Souk El Had sells everything!!!
As the day progressed, we drove along the Agadir beach line promenade and stopped for lunch.
We ate at the Jour & Nuit Restaurant but elected to eat inside as the wind was strong and swirling the sand!!!
The food was tasty, but not exceptional, as everything seemed to taste like ground beef!!!
Our final stop was the Agadir Marina Beach resort area…..
…..where fine dining and elegant shopping are found. We all noticed, this is not where we were taken for lunch!!!!

Casablanca was the second city we visited.

Now, since the 1980s, we have traveled to Casablanca more times than we can count!!!  We have shopped the souk, the markets and even a few factories.  Ahh, the rugs!!!  The tea!!!  The leather!!!  But these days, we no longer need rugs and now prefer wine to tea.  And a lot of that leather purchased in the past is still in use!!!  So these days, as we cruise into port for the day, we tend to be more sedate.  We’ll dine with friends, take a taxi-tour to admire the architecture or pop into the Marche Habous to shop for exotics!!! 

And that is exactly what we did today!!!

We docked in Casablanca early in the morning. But once we’d enjoyed the morning cappuccino and biscotti, we were ready to leave the ship and do a little exploring. We disembarked; hired a taxi for the day; and set out to see some sights!!
It seems to be a “given” that the Hassan II Mosque will be the first place your taxi driver, shuttle bus, or tour guide will take you!!! Fair enough!!! This is the second largest functioning mosque in Africa and is the 7th largest in the world.
After the mosque drive-by, we stopped at the Marche Habous for a little shopping!!!
Here you can find almost everything; from souvenirs…..
… clothes that look comfortable and stylish.
Having satisfied the need to shop, we continued the windshield tour…..
…..and admired the beautiful architecture!!!
We ended the sightseeing tour at Rick’s Café. This is a charming café, opened in 2004 and designed to recreate the fictional bar made famous by Humphry Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the movie classic Casablanca.
The café is housed in a 1930s Moroccan mansion with a central courtyard (riad), We try to stop in on nearly every visit!!! We didn’t see Issam Chabaa playing the piano on this visit, so don’t know if he’s still there. But we hope so!!!
Kathy Kriger (1946-2018) was an American diplomat stationed in Casablanca when she conceived the idea of recreating Rick’s Café. Her dream was achieved in March 2004. Since her death, her company, The Usual Suspects, continues the dream.

Tangier is the final city of our Moroccan triad.

Tangier is a beautiful city on the Morocco coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar.  It was founded as a Phoenician colony, possibly as early as the 10th century BC.  The Phoenicians, the Mauritanians, the Romans, all had their time here.  The Portuguese occupied the area in 1471; but the Iberian rule ended in 1661 when it was given to England’s King Charles II as the dowry of Catherine of Braganza.  Morocco reclaimed the city in 1684.  For a long time, Tangier served as Morocco’s diplomatic headquarters.  In December 1777, Morocco recognized American Independence and George Washington dedicated its first consulate in Tangier.  In 1821, the American Legation building in Tangier became the first piece of property acquired abroad by the U.S. government—a gift from Sultan Moulay Suliman.   

We have been to Tangier many times and every time we visit, one of us will say, “We really should visit the American Legation Museum!!!” And yet, we never have.  But this time, we vowed to do it!!!

And this time, we did!!!

We arrived in Tangier early in the morning. The ship provided a shuttle to the Mandoubia Gardens up the hill. You can see the area in this photo because the mosque spire is rising thru the trees.
We were here during Ramadan and arrived at the Garden during a prayer time.
The Mandoubia Garden area is quite nice. From there, we walked down to the Grand Soco with shops and restaurants circling the green space.
We made it a point to go over to the Mercado Central to see what exotic and different foods are for sale. We found chicken…..
…..and fish…..
…..and fruits, among many, many other foods that included such exotics as rabbit, pigeon, and boar’s head. No, we did not want to include photos of bunnies or piglets!!!!
Leaving the Mercado, we headed over to the American Legation.
We learned that Morocco was one of the first countries to recognize the fledgling independence of the United States. Furthermore, this is the only US National Landmark located in a foreign country.
During WWII, the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) was established to acquire intelligence and provide military support.
Intelligence and diplomatic personnel were housed at the legation and played a crucial role in Allied operations in North Africa during the war.
From 1961 to 1975, the Legation served as a language school for American diplomats and subsequently became a training center for the Peace Corps.
The U. S. Marine Corps was founded in 1775 and has a long history with Morocco. For over 150 years, the Marines performed many missions in Morocco. After WWII the Marine Security Guard was created and deployed to Tangier in 1949.
One of the operations conducted by the Marines was Operation Torch which took place November 8-11, 1942. The goal was the liberation of French North Africa from the grip of Vichy France, which had aligned with Nazi Germany. Goal accomplished!!!
Having completed our own mission to finally view the American Legation, we ventured over to our favorite hotel in Tangier for a celebratory libation!!! The Hotel Continental is always welcoming!!!
We were too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so…..
…..we went out to the balcony for a drink. But of course, it is Ramadan!!! No drinks!!!
So we admired the view and simply enjoyed that we had, once again, experienced another adventure in Tangier!!!
Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…
…..we decided it was time to return to the MS Zuiderdam for a drink!!!

We will now sail over to Spain.

The next post will cover our visits to Malaga and Cadiz.

See you soon!!!

5 thoughts on “The Cities of Morocco:  Agadir, Casablanca, and Tangier”

  1. Spent a week in Morocco several years ago during a church mission trip to coast city of Essaouria. Also visited Marrakech. Very enjoyable!!

    Great pictures!!


    1. Thank you, Sonya

      Tomorrow we will celebrate Holland America’s 150th birthday with a big birthday bash in Amsterdam. Should be fun. Rumor has it the royalty from the Netherlands will be attending. Don’t really think that’s true!!!
      But it should be fun!!!


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