At Tangier, mythology is at one’s fingertips. This is particularly true of the Grottes d’Hercule.
According to Greek mythology, it is here that Hercules rested after separating Africa from Europe, and spent the night thinking about how to carry out the last of the labours imposed on him by Olympus, which was to gather golden apples from the garden of the Hesperides. According to legend, the garden was nearby, not far from the site of Lixus at Larache.
The caves are three miles from the city, towards the south on the Atlantic coast. Inhabited for more than 7,000 years, these caves are to be found between the beaches of Achakkar and Sidi Kacem. Historically, they were used as a quarry for millstones, even as far back as the Phoenicians (not far from here are the ruins of Cotta), which explains their unusual appearance – part artificial, part natural – which has been an inspiration for many artists and architects, including Gaudí.
The best-known image is where the sea exits the cave. Some people see in it an inverted map of Africa and others see the profile of the mythical Greek hero.
Take advantage of a stroll along the rocky beaches outside the caves; the contrast of the rocks against the Atlantic Ocean provides an ideal place to take a selfie.