Caves of Hercules in Morocco

One of the interesting sites that we visited during our tour of Tangier, Morocco, was the Caves of Hercules (Grottes d’Hercule). Although the cave itself isn’t particularly fascinating compared to many other caves we have explored, its history makes it worth taking time to visit. It is located on the coast of the Strait of Gibralter and the drive from Tangier to Cape Spartel where the cave sits on the beach is quite beautiful. The cave is partially natural and partially man-made as the Berber people cut stone from the walls of the cave to use to make millstones.

Shape of Africa in Reverse from Within the Cave
You Can Still See Where the Stone Was Cut Away
View from Cape Spartel
Natural Cave Features

There are two openings to the cave, one from the sea and one from land, but the one from one land is the actual entrance to the cave. The opening to the sea was believed to have been carved by the Phoenicians and when viewed from the sea is in the shape of Africa. There are a couple of interesting legends associated with the cave. First is the belief that Hercules, the Roman god, stayed and slept in the cave during the 11th of his 12 labours that were given to him by King Eurystheus of Tiryns. This myth is obviously the source of the current name of the cave complex. Perhaps even more interesting is the legend that the cave was believed to be the entrance of a tunnel underneath the Strait of Gibralter that led to St. Michael’s Cave in Gibraltar. That same legend has the famous Barbary Macaque Monkeys that inhabit Gibraltar having used this tunnel to get from Africa to Europe.

Walking Through the Cave Towards the Sea Opening
Exploring the Caves of Hercules
Cape Spartel Lighthouse
Walls of the Cave

The Africa shaped opening, carved walls, and fascinating legends make this a worthwhile stop when visiting Tangier, Morocco. We also stopped at the Cape Spartel Lighthouse to have a snack and enjoy the amazing views. We also rode camels on the beach nearby, but that was very touristy. The Caves of Hercules remains one of our favorite memories of our tour in Morocco.

Riding Camels on the Beach
Interesting Coloration (and Yes, We Were Leaning Over as We Took This Photograph)
Views from Cape Spartel Lighthouse
Waves Crashing on the Rocky Cave Entrance