Photographer's Note

I have thought about posting this one a couple of times before. In fact, I already posted it as a WS of a Mav_Erick's post that by coincidence was shot 11 years before from the same exact point this one was. I am aware that it isn't a particularly pretty photo or street, but I sense in it much of Tangier and its busy street life, somehow reminiscent of Southern Spain and more broadly and with some imagination, also of the first half of the 20th century.

This is pretty much on the shopping and tourist centre of the town. The street traverses the old part of the town (also called medina, the Arab word for town commonly used to refer the older parts of the towns), connecting one of the landmarks of Tangier, the Grand Socco with the harbour, passing through another famous spot, the Petit Socco (photo of it on this WS), which lies just after the visible part of the street. The oldest blocks, more genuinely Arabic and the old fortress are to the left and the more 'European' blocks are to the right.

As you can easily guess, the light was rather tricky and what you see is the result of some pseudo-HDR done with PP - I used two merged layers, one to compose the brighter areas and another one to compose the darker areas. I am aware that there are still burnt spots, but it would be very hard to avoid such oe on light subject under that blazing sun.

I have a more recent post showing the inside of the restaurant from where this one was shot.

Tangier (or if you prefer, Tanja or Tanger) is one one those places that attracts me a lot, much more for its atmosphere than for its intrinsic beauty and I am far from alone on that, considering the number of writers, painters and other artists that fell in love with the place to the point of living there, some of them most of their lives, perhaps the most famous one being Paul Bowles. I am fully aware that the way we feel the places has a lot to do with what we heard and read about it and the fictional idea we form about it, but too many times the places are rather disappointing once we visit them, specially if one had high expectations, which actually wasn't my case. It's really hard to describe what I like in it and I guess that doing it in a foreign language isn't the bigger difficulty. Seen from away, from the sea when we came by ferry from Spain, or from the hills near the sea, is actually a beautiful city, a white spot that sprawls along a beautiful bay, with a large sandy beach and hills on both sides. It looks very Mediterranean and Arabic. But as soon we enter, one gets mixed feelings about it: its crazy traffic, some less clean areas, the urban chaos (much less extensive than it looks at first), reminds me of a 3rd World metropolis; in other occasions and places it seems remarkably Western, sometimes modern, more frequently much early 20th century. It is surely a Moroccan city, but one still feels the atmosphere of the times it was an International Zone ruled jointly by France, UK, Spain, Portugal and lately also by Italy, US and USSR.

It's a very cosmopolitan place and I guess it has always been in all its long history, that started as early as the time of the Carthaginians, that settled a colony there in the 5th century BC. Then it was the capital of a Roman province for 5 centuries, then came the Vandals, the Byzantines, the Arabs and the Portuguese, who ruled it from the late 15th century until 1661, when they gave it to King Charles II of England as part of the dowry from the Portuguese princess Catarina de Bragança (another part of the dowry was the Indian city of Bombay, Bombaim [the male form of 'good bay'] in Portuguese, now officially Mumbai, which was the first British possession in India). The English didn't stay for long and abandoned the city a few years later and the city lost much of its importance until the 19th century, when it began being ruled jointly by France, UK, Spain and Portugal. It was given back to the Moroccans in the year of its independence, 1956.

There are a couple of episodes that struck me much. One of them was the first 'monument' we visited: an Anglican church from the 19th century that is still used for religious services. It has a well cared garden that is also a British cemetery with many tombs from the 19th and 20th century and it is just 100 meters from the entrance of the medina. Another one is the incredible night life, specially on the street bordering the beach. Much like in Spain, everybody seems to go to the street before and after dinner, provoking a huge flood on the streets with people talking and strolling around.

Location (latitude, longitude): 35.78544,-5.81102

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Additional Photos by Jose Pires (stego) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4422 W: 612 N: 7301] (24132)
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