I am standing on the walls of the Guzmán El Bueno Castle. Below me are the blue waters of the Mediterranean and in the distance I can spot the lights of Tangier, Morocco. I have arrived in Tarifa, Spain, the southernmost point of the European continent, the place where Europe ends and Africa begins…
I love these kind of places: they make me somewhat dreamy, nostalgic, sad and curious at the same time. I could sit here for hours, watching the ferries coming in and out, wondering what lies across the water, barely 11 kilometres away, but no doubt a whole world apart.
I have been travelling through the white villages of Andalucia to discover the Moorish influence in the region. The numerous castles, the white-washed houses and the winding little streets all bear witness to Andalusia’s Moorish past. Tarifa is my last stop on this trip and I am curious to see what 700 years of Moorish rule (roughly 700 AD-1450 AD) have done to this city’s layout.
When approaching the old town, there’s no doubt that the Moorish heritage is still very present: the medieval gateway could easily be mistaken for the entrance to a Northern Africa medina and the narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed alleys are a proof of the once so close link between the 2 continents.
But this is also unmistakenly Spain: Tarifa’s gorgeous beaches are known as a hip and breezy mecca among windsurfers and as the evening falls, the historic squares get filled with people spilling out of the nearby tapas bars. Locals and tourists alike are getting ready for a long evening out.
The next morning, I go back into the old town. Morocco seems at an almost-touchable distance and my only regret is that I am not able to jump on the ferry this time. But one day, I will stand on the other side of the Mediterranean and look back at Tarifa from there!
(Spoiler alert: about a year later I did exactly that! Standing on the castle walls of Tangier, looking out towards Spain!)
Have you ever stood on the borderline of two continents? If so, where was that?