The layout within Tangier’s Medina, like most throughout Morocco, was never planned in advance. As the need arose, a labyrinth of streets and small squares emerged that eventually became the various quarters there today.

Looking at it today, the Petit Socco, or Zoco Chico (Little Market), seems too small ever to have served such a purpose, though up until the nineteenth century the square was almost twice its present size, and it was only at the beginning of the twentieth century that the hotels and cafés were built. Up until the 1930s, when the focus moved to the Ville Nouvelle, this was the true heart of Tangier, and a broad mix of people – Christians, Jews and Muslims, Moroccans, Europeans and Americans – would gather here daily.

In the heyday of the “International City”, with easily exploited Arab and Spanish sexuality a major attraction, it was in the alleys behind the Socco that the straight and gay brothels were concentrated. William Burroughs used to hang out around the square: “I get averages of ten very attractive propositions a day”, he wrote to Allen Ginsberg. The Socco cafés lost much of their appeal at independence, when the sale of alcohol was banned in the Medina, but they remain diverting places to sit around, people-watch, talk and get some measure of the Medina.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Morocco features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Meknes: the Moroccan city you've never heard of but need to visit 

Meknes: the Moroccan city you've never heard of but need to visit 

With the title of Imperial City and a UNESCO-stamped ancient medina, Meknes can rival the likes of Marrakesh, Rabat, and Fez, yet it struggles to attract the…

08 Dec 2016 • Kirsten Henton insert_drive_file Article
Chefchaouen: Morocco’s best-kept secret

Chefchaouen: Morocco’s best-kept secret

Morocco’s tourist track isn’t well-beaten, it’s been thumped flat. Ask anyone who has been and the chances are they’ll have visited some combination of …

05 Dec 2016 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Marrakesh

A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Marrakesh

The last few years have seen Marrakesh well and truly established as Morocco’s capital of chic, attracting the rich and famous from Europe and beyond. Yet t…

11 Jul 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month