Kasbah Museum in Tangier, history inside a palace
When you visit cities as vibrant as Tangier, where life takes place in the streets and there are interesting sights around every corner, you might not think about visiting museums or art galleries. What’s more, on your trip to Tangier you should make an exception and make time in your schedule to visit the Kasbah Museum in Tangier.
The museum is located in the highest part of the medina, in the old citadel or Kasbah quarter, so you’ll pass by it sooner or later. Moreover, it’s located in the Dar el Makhzen palace, so during a visit you won’t just admire the exhibits but you’ll also see what the structure of this type of building was like. You’ll no doubt have already noticed that, just as in some places things look better on the outside than on the inside, in Tangier, behind a façade that at first glance appears simplistic or even rundown, there are majestic spaces or beautiful courtyards with spraying fountains. We’d like to share a secret with you: on our trips we take advantage of the riads that double up as restaurants to make a lunch or dinner reservation, so that we can admire how beautiful these mansions are inside. Otherwise, it would be impossible to see them because they’re private property.
- History and secrets of the Kasbah Museum
- What you can see in the museum
- How to visit: opening times, prices…
- Hotels in Tangier
History and secrets of the Kasbah Museum
To talk about Tangier’s Kasbah Museum, we must begin by providing some context behind its current location, the Dar el Makhzen palace (or Seat of Government), a palace built in the 18th century during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail. You might recognise the name because it was he who expelled the English from Tangier. It was built by Pasha Ahmed Ben Ali Rifi, the son of the general who liberated the city (Ahmad al-Rifi). A prime spot in the Kasbah, i.e. the fortified area or citadel, was chosen for its location. What was so special about this location? Above all, the views, as it’s located in the highest part of the city, offering the best panoramic views of the medina and also of the Strait of Gibraltar, where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean meet. It’s one of the most historic places in Tangier because it was the residence of sultans and the seat of the Portuguese and British rulers.
Visiting the museum will allow you to cross the threshold of a building with a white, crenellated façade, seemingly lacking in elegance, to discover its two courtyards with fountains and an Andalusian garden, which is slightly more hidden away. In addition, the building, which was expanded in the 18th and 19th centuries, has ornate ceilings and beautiful carved wooden domes.
The secrets of the Kasbah Museum are often spoken of because it has little mysteries in surprising places that have been studied and revealed. Some interesting elements are the inscription on a frieze that hints at the date of construction (1737 AD), the iron box in the treasury that requires several buttons to be pressed at the same time to open, and the inscription in praise of the craftsmen in the room with the green dome.
What you can see in the museum
In addition to admiring the beautiful architecture of the Dar el Makhzen palace, with its coffered ceilings, courtyards, fountains and ornate rooms, you also have the opportunity at the Kasbah Museum in Tangier to see a fine display of craftsmanship that reflects the different cultures that have passed through the city. Among the most striking pieces is the aforementioned wrought-iron box located in the Treasury Room. To open it you have to press several buttons at the same time. You can also learn about the history of Tangier, with its various occupations, through information panels that will allow you to better understand the city during your visit.
And if you’re a lover of art and crafts, here you’ll be able to appreciate the work of artists from different periods in the form of jewellery, leather goods, textiles, carpets, manuscripts and objects made from silk. Some of the most eye-catching exhibits are a mosaic of Venus from the Roman city of Volubilis, and a giant map. Don’t miss the Andalusian garden. If you’re not in a hurry, you’ll find many other treasures in each room.
How to visit: opening times, prices…
The Kasbah Museum can be visited independently, by buying your ticket and visiting the rooms open to the public. The explanatory signs are in French and Arabic, so if you don’t speak either of these languages, download an app that translates them directly for you. To see the other rooms that are more private, you’ll need to sign up for a guided tour.
Some useful information to bear in mind is that it is located next to the Kasbah square, that it’s open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., and that the entrance fee is 20 dirham for adults and 10 dirham for children.
Hotels in Tangier
If you’ve decided to visit this museum and get to know the city, we recommend staying in a place close to the historic area so that you can move around freely but also get to the beach in a few minutes. There’s a place that satisfies these two requirements: the Barceló Tánger. This hotel, which has the quality criteria of a Spanish hotel group, offers you comfortable facilities, 138 spacious rooms with terraces and sea views, as well as a large swimming pool. It also has a restaurant if you’d prefer to relax inside the hotel at any time. There you will find a restaurant, a cafeteria, a snack bar, and a pub that offers live music.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Kasbah Museum in Tangier?
The Kasbah Museum is located next to the Kasbah Square, in the quarter that bears the same name. This ancient citadel occupies the highest part of Tangier's medina. To get there, you’ll have to climb up steep alleyways that will take you to the highest part of the historic centre.
What can you see in the Museum?
The Kasbah Museum takes us through the main historical periods of Tangier through different panels, and houses a large collection of art and crafts (jewellery, ceramics, leather goods, and carpets) and pieces from Moroccan archaeological sites.
What are the museum's opening hours?
The Kasbah Museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Check before you visit as opening hours may vary throughout the year. The entrance fee is 20 dirham (adults) and 10 dirham (children).