Moroccan crafts: what to pick up on your next trip to Tangier

Discover why no trip to Tangier is complete without stocking up on tantalising Moroccan crafts for your home

Stroll through the same meandering streets that were once the playground for creatives such as Matisse, Capote and Ginsberg and you will discover that Tangier is a city full of art and history. If you are done exploring the bustling city of Marrakech and want a change of scene from Fez or Casablanca then Tangier provides an alluring bohemian melting pot of creative talent that is worth diving into. Tangier is not only packed with art, it is also by the coast, so beaches are a great way to relax. Not to mention, its coastal location means that it is easy to dine on deliciously fresh seafood in between browsing the rainbow of Moroccan crafts just waiting to be packed into your suitcase as souvenirs. 

Why visit Tangier for Moroccan souvenirs?

Tangier is a jewel in Morocco’s already bejewelled crown. Just a short ferry journey away from the coast of Spain and one of the main travel destinations in Morocco, there is more to this city than meets the eye. Yet, one of the main reasons to visit is for the souvenirs. You won’t have to worry about elevated prices or having to battle the crowds since Tangier offers a more local scene when it comes to craftsmanship. Be sure to stay close to the Medina and don’t be afraid to haggle. It often pays to window shop first, feigning disinterest in a product only to return back to drive a hard bargain. But, don’t forget that Moroccan crafts often involve a labour intensive production process which should be valued at the moment of purchase. Expect to feel your attention being pulled in one-thousand different directions as you walk deeper into the souks offering a whole world of treasures. Just remember not to get too carried away when picking out souvenirs to buy in Morocco as you don’t want to push your suitcase weight allowance to the limit. 

The Barcelo Tangier is an idyllic spot to rest and relax while looking for Moroccan crafts

What is so special about Moroccan crafts?

Originally the city was populated by the indigenous Amazigh people of North Africa, since then, the Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals and Byzantines have all made their mark on Tangier. The result? A whirlwind of culture and creative styles just waiting to be explored. You can find all kinds of art crafts in the souks. Everything from leather goods, woven bags, tea glasses, jewellery, tablecloths, towels, carpets and rugs are just some of the treasures that are handcrafted by locals. The materials are finely worked by hand using machines and traditional tools, to make decorative daily objects but also some more luxurious items.

Moroccan art and crafts hold high cultural value both within Morocco and throughout the rest of the world

Moroccan art and crafts hold high cultural value both within Morocco and throughout the rest of the world. You can learn about the importance of Moroccan crafts in Tangier society at the Kasbah Museum located in the old town. Here you will be taken on a journey as you explore artefacts from key historical moments in the city’s development. 

Discover Moroccan crafts as soon as you step foot outside of your hotel

See Moroccan mosaic art up close

To see ancient Moroccan crafts in the wild, head straight to the Kasbah of Tangier. To reach this cultural highlight you have to pass through the Medina, a lively universe bursting with life and art. Brush shoulders with snake charmers and witness women carrying their shopping in baskets perched precariously on their heads. Once you step inside the Kasbah you will be blinded by the beauty of the Moroccan garden art and the traditional mosaics that decorate the walls. The tiles create a cooling, calm environment that has long been an inspiration for artists visiting the city. Plus, it is a stone’s throw from the Kasbah Museum so you can easily combine both plans and enjoy a culture infused morning exploring the city’s vibrant history. 

All you need to know about Moroccan craftsmanship

Moroccan crafts are more than just a passing interior design trend. They form part of a movement that dates back thousands of years. Ultimately Moroccan handmade crafts are storytelling tools used to translate the country’s rich cultural heritage and it is only recently that they have made their way into houses across the globe. Berber folk art and ceramics have been found at archaeological sites dating back to Roman times, over 2000 years ago. 

Berber folk art and ceramics have been found at archaeological sites dating back to Roman times, over 2000 years ago

This knowledge and skill has been passed down for generations and today master craftsmen and women form part of guilds to nurture their talent and livelihood. From Moroccan textiles inspired by henna art, Turkish inspired Rabat carpets and the Babouche style leather shoes, Morocco is a hub of creativity. Metal work, Zellige tiles and calligraphy are also popular forms for craftsmanship found across this North African paradise. You may think you have had a taste of Moroccan art from exploring Moorish corners of Andalusia but it is not until you visit Tangier that you can appreciate the craftsmanship up close.

Head straight to the market in Tangier to explore the world of Moroccan crafts

Discover Moroccan tile art while exploring the city

Tangier and other Moroccan cities are a paradise for homeowners looking to pick up some unique finds for their living space. One such item that shouldn’t be left behind is Moroccan artwork in the form of ceramic tiles. Did you know that Moroccan tiles, also known as Zellige tiles, are commonly referred to as the “Prince of tiles”? Their geometric designs and intricate details have been used as a decorative feature on public buildings for centuries. The colours used: brown, white, green, blue, saffron and black are said to represent the five elements, adding another layer of symbolism to the already mystic Moorish architecture of Tangier. Yet, they take years of practice to master, making them a sought-after material that only a few craftsmen have the skills to create. Take a stroll through the city centre and look out for these tiles in hammams, on fountains and on the walls of palaces. You can even pick up versions of this tile in the souk to take home with you as a reminder of your travels. 

Explore Moroccan tapestry art and other forms of textiles

Moroccan tapestry art, rugs and embroidery are all colourful keepsakes to squish into your suitcase. Commonly produced by female Moroccan artists, these textiles can be found easily in any of the local markets. But not all rugs and carpets are made equal. If you see lozenge patterns you are likely to be looking at Berber weaves. Meanwhile, the textiles originating from the Atlas Mountain tribes normally boast large format, zig-zag patterns. Back in the day, it was tradition for these decorative textiles to be made from hair, wool and camel fur but today cotton and synthetics have become more common. 

Shop for rugs and other Moroccan crafts in Tangier

Moroccan handicrafts also extend to beauty products

Apart from the typical Moroccan crafts that can be used to decorate your home, traditional Moroccan crafts also extend to products like Argan oil as well as spices. These edible treasures form part of Morocco’s rich cultural heritage while providing a whole range of health benefits. Argan oil is an oil extracted from the kernels of the Argan tree which is native to Morocco. It is one of the best souvenirs from Morocco thanks to the exceptional beauty benefits it offers, mainly being highly restorative and nourishing for hair and the scalp. It is also used on the body as a massage oil and has been reported to be a natural SPF, reduces the risk of Acne breakouts and has anti-ageing and antioxidant properties. It is a superhero in a bottle ready to rescue us from any beauty crisis. Pick up a bottle while on holiday and pop it in your beauty bag so that you are armed and ready for the harsh winter weather.