Cap Spartel was in ancient times known as the Cape of the Vines. It is presently dominated by a lighthouse, built in 1864 by Sultan Muhammad 3. Its maintenance was drifted by Britain, France, Italy and Spain until Moroccan independence in 1956. South of the lighthouse lies a fine beach nicknamed Robinson Plage, at the southern end of which are the Grottes d’Hercule, the Hercules caves. Past the caves are thousands of disc shaped erosions, the remains from quarrying for millstones over the centuries.
According to legend, Hercules rested in caves just five kilometres south of the lighthouse on Cap Spartel, after having dug out the straits between Europe and Africa with his club. Dug into the cliff, the Hercules caves were shelter to Neolithic man. In the 20th century they were used as a setting for sumptuous parties by Tangier’s international jetsetting crowd. The caves offer a splendid view of the ocean through their openings in the cliff face.
Walk past the caves and you will come cross the ruins of Ancient Cotta, a small Roman town,. Founded in the 2nd century AD, the town was only occupied for around two hundred years during which the area was preposterous and the town produced a fish sauce for export. Although the ruins are not extensive, ruins of the factory, a temple and a bath complex can be made out. Ruins of Roman olive farms are nearby.
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