The Spanish gates to Africa


Gibraltar is the place well-known for tourists: a small outpost of Great Britain on the edge of the Iberian Peninsula, a reminder of the era of great conquests. It is less known that Spain governs its own Gibraltar, or, to be more precise, two. We are talking about the small Spanish enclaves in Africa – Ceuta and Melilla. I happened to visit Ceuta.

First a bit of history. This city on the North African coast was first recaptured and built by the Portuguese. Later Portugal merged with Spain into one state, but soon ripped this union… However, Ceuta and Melilla did not follow suit and remained faithful to the Madrid crown. So that Spanish cities in Africa arisen.

You can fly to Ceuta by plane from Malaga, but the variant to ferry from the little town of Algeciras is definitely more exciting. The whole ferry trip takes only an hour and a half, but it will be remembered for the fresh air, sparkling sea and views of the approaching African coast.


Here is Ceuta. It meets you with colonial buildings adjacent to the port, and monuments of the warlike history of Spain. It is a city full of reminiscences of the Spanish Empire which has been irretrievably gone in the past.


There are plenty of such remnants you can find in Ceuta – the Museum of Legionnaires and the monument of the Civil Guard, the monument to Spanish soldiers and houses in a mixed Spanish-Arabic style. In the warm season, the city turns to an excellent resort, and its long, white beaches encircling the entire peninsula are full of people. The winter beaches of Ceuta are empty, although they also have its charm, in a cold, deserted way.


The remarkable things in Ceuta are its statues – they are a lot of them, they are different, densely scattered throughout the old center. Here, for example, the symbol of the city – Hercules, who is pushing apart the Hercules pillars. While we are at it – it is known, the ancients called so two rocks that closed the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.


According to the scientists, the southern “pillar” is Mount Monte Hacho, which dominates Ceuta. It is low, but it is worth climbing – for example, to look at the city from this “mirador” (viewing platform) and come close to the fortress of Monte Hacho. Unfortunately, you can’t enter to the fortress itself – it belongs to the Spanish military, but the view from there is worth efforts taken.


Ceuta is a Spanish city in Africa, with a share of  European Union, a slice of Arabian East and, of course, with a lot, a lot of the Mediterranean. It is sunny, warm, noisy and all permeated by the reflections of the sea and the smell of Spanish-African cuisine. Ceuta is the Spanish gates to Africa or the African manhole to Europe.