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Location - North Africa; Capital - Rabat; Population - 32 million; Currency - Morocco Dirham MORE MOROCCO

Some of the Spanish peñones, or military rock fortresses, are a couple of hours drive from Melilla near the Moroccan resort of Al-Hoceima - October 2011. I revisited Al-Hoceima and environs in December 2013 to complete my stakeout of the Spanish territories.


mornoteThe Moroccan Dirham









mor655A view of Al-Hoceima from the the hill above the bus station


mor499A portrait of the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI - Al-Hoceima



mor657Hotel Villa Florido on Place du Rif - Al-Hoceima















mor660The gardens of the Espace Miramar, a restaurant overlooking Plage Quemado - Al-Hoceima














mor658Plage Quemado is the town's main beach - Al-Hoceima


mor662What I presume are fishing boats set out for their catch - Al-Hoceima


mor663The steep walls surrounding Plage Quemado - Al-Hoceima













penon23Three islands are clearly visible from the Moroccan resort of Al-Hoceima. But they're not Moroccan, they're Spanish. On the left is Peñón de Alhucemas, in the middle Isla de Mar and on the right Isla de Tierra.


mor513A short taxi ride to the Moroccan beach Plage Asfiha provides a good look at the islands. The main one is Peñon de Alhucemas.



mor516At its longest point, Peñon de Alhucemas measures 220 metres















mor520The military fortress is crammed with buildings, including a church, houses and helicopter landing area - Peñon de Alhucemas















mor526Spanish military personnel exit the helicopter, next to the church. And yes, Peñon de Alhucemas is off-limits to visitors.


mor512The Spanish military helicopter circles Peñon de Alhucemas


mor511Walking along the Moroccan beach Plage Asfiha















mor510A few hundred metres from the military fortress are the uninhabited Spanish islands of Isla de Tierra and Isla del Mar














mor506Isla de Tierra is so close to the Moroccan coast - weird! The islands are a legacy of Spain's influence in Morocco, which extended down to Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara).


mor509'No entry. Grounds of the Spanish Ministry of Defence' - a sign in Spanish, French and Arabic on the uninhabited island of Isla de Tierra


mor670Heading west of Al-Hoceima is the small coastl town, Torres de Alcala


mor676The area has a beautiful rugged coastline. The hilltop ruins in the foreground are Spanish miltary watchtowers - Torres de Alcala


mor686But again the reason for my visit was to track down another Spanish military fortress, this one being Penon de Velez de la Gomera














penon80A slightly bored Moroccan soldier looks across the waters to Penon de Velez de la Gomera.
He looked surprised when I appeared, walking down the rough hillside tracks, and asked me why I was there. After saying I wanted to see the penon he let me carry on down to the beach













penon33It takes about an hour's walk from Torres de Alcala to reach the Spanish military fortress of Penon de Velez de la Gomera, a magnificent structure linked to the Moroccan mainland by a narrow stretch of sand


penon31The tiny fishing village of Bades lies opposite the penon














mor688The beach at Bades















penon69The most bizarre international border I've come across! The thin blue rope just after the fishing boats marks the border between Morocco and Spain. Until 1934 it was an island but a storm washed up rocks and sand, creating the weirdest frontier... As I walked towards it soldiers from both Morocco and Spain began shouting at me - Penon de Velez de la Gomera



mor541Several hours by bus from Al-Hoceima, along winding roads, is the lovely hillside town of Chefchaouen















mor531From a distance it seems only a few of the buildings are painted blue.
When walking around the medina it feels like there's no other colour - Chefchaouen















mor549The previous photos were taken from here, the Spanish Mosque, situated on a hilltop above town - Chefchaouen


mor545Goats are herded along the trail to the Spanish Mosque - Chefchaouen


mor599The Rif Mountains surround the Spanish Mosque - Chefchaouen














mor553Ras el-Maa Falls are on the way to the mosque, but somehow I don't think this is them.
Doh! Missed them.. Chefchaouen













mor551A Moroccan woman heads home - Chefchaouen


mor555At the outskirts of town - Chefchaouen


mor557Blue and white buildings abound in Chefchaouen















mor559Beautiful decoration, typical of houses in Chefchaouen















mor563Father and daughter wander through Chefchaouen's medina


mor565There's plenty of lanes and alleyways in which to lose yourself, though the medina is sufficiently compact that you'll get your bearings soon enough - Chefchaouen



mor570An entrance to a medina street - Chefchaouen















mor569An elderly couple walk past a medina clothing shop - Chefchaouen













mor574A painting just off the central Plaza Uta el-Hammam - Chefchaouen


mor575The heart of Chefchaouen is Plaza Uta el-Hammam


mor576On the edge of the plaza is the Grand Mosque - Chefchaouen















mor583The 15th century Grand Mosque - Chefchaouen















mor584The plaza is very touristy but a great place to relax in the evening - Chefchaouen


mor611Dine alfresco and sip mint tea, fruit juice or coffee - Chefchaouen


mor581Also on Plaza Uta el-Hammam is the Kasbah - Chefchaouen















mor582The walled fortress of the Kasbah - Chefchaouen
















mor579Local men take a rest at the entrance to the Kasbah - Chefchaouen


mor589The Kasbah has a small garden and museum - Chefchaouen


mor588Climb the stairs to the top of the Kasbah tower - Chefchaouen
















mor600The Kasbah tower lookout - Chefchaouen
















mor597Get a good view of the mosque and the Rif Mountains from the Kasbah - Chefchaouen


mor624There's a café-restaurant just off Plaza Uta el-Hammam which has a roof terrace - Chefchaouen


mor608A great place for a drink providing you can hide from a scorching sun - Chefchaouen














mor605Plaza Uta el-Hammam, with the Kasbah on the left and the Grand Mosque further back - Chefchaouen













mor607The Rif Mountains from the roof terrace - Chefchaouen


mor602Thatching looks a pretty precarious job to me - Chefchaouen


mor601Buildings on the slopes of Chefchaouen














mor617In the narrow lanes a moped and/or donkey are useful modes of transprt - Chefchaouen














mor625Are these natural dyes? Outside a shop in the medina - Chefchaouen


mor621Chefchaouen, also known as Chaouen, translates to 'Look at the Peaks'


mor614Blue became the town's prevalent colour in the 1930s - Chefchaouen















mor619A very colourful and welcoming entrance - Chefchaouen



















mor622And so is this one. Keeping up with the Jones's in Chefchaouen



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