Why Tangier is a Mystical Muse For Book Lovers and Writers

Tangier Medina | © katiebordner / Flickr
Tangier Medina | © katiebordner / Flickr
Photo of Yasmine Guermoudi
Web Content Writer6 November 2017

Tangier is one of those cities where as soon as you land, you feel like you’ve landed in another world. It’s authenticity inspired all kinds of artists with passion and originality in their works, like famous American writer Paul Bowles or French painter Henri Matisse. They have described it as a place where they were living outside of the norm, opposite to the western world, so here are five reasons why Tangier is a mystical muse for book lovers and writers.

The cafés in Grand Socco

You can contemplate the real beauty of Tangier while sitting at Grand Café de Paris on a rainy day just watching people walk by and getting inspired by new adventures.

Another great coffee shop is La Terrasse du 9 Avril from which you can see the whole main square and entrance to the old medina with decorative palm trees.

Grand Socco | © Aleksandr Zykov / Flickr

Paul Bowles loved it

Paul Bowles was an American writer, who moved to Tangier in 1947 and lived there for 52 years until he died. Bowles said about Tangier: “I was a composer for as long as I’ve been a writer. I came here because I wanted to write a novel. I had a commission to do it. I was sick of writing music for other people,” and he certainly did.

In 1949, The Sheltering Sky was published and sold fast. Bowles traveled through the Algerian Sahara, Tunisia, and Morocco to get inspired for this book.

In 1990 the novel was adapted by Bernardo Bertolucci into a film that was filmed in the same locations.

William Burroughs

William Burroughs was fleeing Mexico in the 1950s, where he shot and killed his wife accidentally while drunk. He settled in Tangier and wrote the book he would become famous for, Naked Lunch, a critical take on American culture.

Naked Lunch is about Burroughs’ alter ego, called William Lee, who is fleeing The U.S. in search of his next fix. He meets new people along the way and the scenes described do get reasonably explicit.

In the 1950s, nearly everything was permitted in Tangier as long as you didn’t commit serious crimes, so drugs and prostitution were common back then.

Burroughs said, “Tangier is one of the few places left in the world where, so long as you don’t proceed to robbery, violence, or some form of crude, antisocial behavior, you can do exactly what you want.”

Tangier Medina |  © katiebordner / Flickr

Librairie les Insolites

This amazing bookshop is the epitome of mystical cozy bookshops in Tangier. It has a great selection of books in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic, there is art hanging on the walls, and the smell of books is consuming. The outside is as particular as the inside with tables and chairs on the pavement for anyone who would like to order a drink while reading their book.

This is an amazing place to connect with new people as you will meet artsy people with the same interests as you, and you can even bond over a coffee and a copy of The Sheltering Sky.

Les Insolites, 28 Khalid IBN AL OUALID, Tangier, Morocco, +212 5393-71367

The beach

The beach is one of the most peaceful places in Tangier as you can “look out across the Strait of Gibraltar to the mountains of Andalusia,” as Paul Bowles once said. You can sit, listening to the waves, birds, and dogs that surround the coast.

Since Tangier is located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic, you can also visit Cap Spartel, where the two seas meet. It is truly one of the most picturesque places you will find in Morocco.

Cap Spartel | © Lkadi Adil/WikiCommons

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