The Grand Socco connects old Tangier with the Ville Nouvelle or new city of Tangier. Formally known as Place de Avril 9, Grand Socco is the Spanish name coming from the Arabic word souk. Taxi drivers will know it by its name in Darija which is Souk Barre.
The formal name of Place de Avril 9, was given to the location because it was the site of King Mohammed V’s speech supporting Moroccan independence in 1947.
The Grand Socco is always busy but comes alive at night when vendors bring used items, as well as fruits, nuts, cigarettes, and spices into the square for selling. The palm filled square hosts a spectacular fountain in its center, which so far I’ve not seen filled with water.
In the Grand Socco, there are several other prominent sites such as the Cinema Rif, the Sidi Bou Abib Mosque dating from 1917. The courthouse with a banyan tree said to be over 800 years old is located there and the romantic, keyhole gate called Bab Fass into the Medina.
There are park benches for sitting and watching the world go by and you can always get a taxi in this location. There are many outside cafes around the area for sitting and drinking tea or having something to eat.
Just off the Grand Socco, you will find St. Andrews Anglican Church, the Medina, The Roman Tombs, Café Hafa, and up the hill, Café Paris and the new city center. The Mendoubia Gardens is within walking distance and is a nice place for a picnic.
Just up the street that runs to the left of the mosque as you are facing it is a farmer’s market on Thursday and Sunday. Farmers line the street with vegetables and fruits and the women wear the colorful straw hats and long skirts of the countryside.