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Spanish Morocco: The EU in Africa? Educational photo essay

January 9, 2013


In the fifteenth and the seventeenth century, Melilla and Ceuta became Spanish territories or exclaves, respectively. And while Morocco has claimed these territories several times since then, they have been unsuccessful. In my eyes, Spanish Morocco is here to stay — at least for the next decade or two.

Spanish Morocco: The EU in Africa

As with much of Africa, these Spanish exclaves  in Morocco were under the rule of several other empires since their discovery. Combined, Melilla and Ceuta have been under Almoravid, Almohad, Marinid, Wattasid, Roman, Vandal, Phoenician, Punic, Ummayyad, Idrisid, Byzantine, Hispano-Visigothic, Amazigh, and Portuguese rule, among others (and not necessarily in that order! Thanks again Wikipedia).

Nowadays,  a visit to Melilla or Ceuta is (sort of) like a day in the EU. You get a passport stamp (but pay no visa –  yay), cars have EU plates,  plus the architecture, customs, and traditions are more similar to Spain than Morocco. It’s like you are stepping out of Africa.

Also note, Spanish Morocco is not confined to these 2 exclaves. Check out the map below in order to see all Spanish holdings in this Arab country:

Spanish Morocco map

Spanish Morocco: All territories of España (Spain) in the Arab country (Marruecos), including the Spanish exclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. Map: Wiki Commons

Things to do in Melilla

Thinking of heading to this lesser-known Spanish exclave? Pick a Spanish hostel and check out the following Melilla attractions:

Melilla La Vieja: the Old City

Spanish Morocco, Melilla Old City

Melilla la Vieja by Miguel González Novo, Flickr

Las Cuevas del Convéntico: underground history

Parque Hernández: botanical gardens

Almacenes de las Peñuelas: municipal museum complex

Spanish Morocco, Melilla Museum

Melilla’s municipal museum complex (photo: Tripadvisor)

Things to do in Ceuta

Thinking of heading to the most popular Spanish exclave in Morocco? Check out the following Ceuta attractions:

Casa De Los Dragones: Moorish and Spanish architecture

Spanish Morocco, Casa de los Dragones

La Casa de los Dragones in Ceuta by Marco Boscolo, Flickr

Conjunto Monumental de las Murallas Reales: breathtaking fortifications

Parque Marítimo del Mediterráneo: the Martime Park

Spanish Morocco, Ceuta Martine Park

Maritime Park in Ceuta by Jose María Mora Camacho, Flickr

Parroquia de Santa María de Africa: Gothic-Barroque church

Spanish Morocco, Ceuta church

Ceuta’s Santa María de Africa church has the mix of fine European art, such as its Gothic Virgin Mary sculpture and Barroque altar (photo by ecemaml, Wiki Commons)

Have you been to Spanish Morocco? Did you know about the EU in Africa?

5 Responses to “Spanish Morocco: The EU in Africa? Educational photo essay”

  1. Jack Scott Says:

    It’s interesting that the Spanish Government talks with such passion about the return of Gibraltar yet refuses to discuss the return of these enclaves to Morocco.


  2. Jennifer Walker Says:

    Thank you so much for this post! You’ve inspired me to book a flight to Melilla for a long weekend in March! I’m looking forward to it immensely. :)


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