Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate is a picturesque coastal area, surrounded by mountains dotted with small farm towns and tribal marketplaces. This region is composed of three provinces: Al Hoceima, Taounate and Taza. The regional capital is Taza.
Al Hoceima has a distinctive, Mediterranean character, with its whitewashed houses. It also has old schools and a church that were established by the Spanish. The town was little more than a fishing village among the southern cliffs until the 1950s.
The more modern part of town has a grid pattern of streets and offers lovely views of the wooded hills and the sea. It is idyllic except during peak tourist season, when it is crowded with visitors, mostly French and German as well as Moroccan. Rather small, it is not yet developed enough to deal with large numbers of tourists but it has some seafood restaurants as well as simple guesthouses. Its old quarter has a good number of cafés and restaurants around the Place de Rif. At Plage Quemado, its most popular beach, there is the grand Mohammad V Hotel, which has a bar, a nightclub, a tennis court and a restaurant. Traditional seafood dishes are the town specialty, but since the 1990s there have also been Western-type fast food and pizza joints.
Formed from two high-altitude towns on separate cliffs, the province of Taza is situated in the Taza Gap, a mountain pass through which invaders entered northwestern Africa from the Atlantic. Caves in the area contain evidence of inhabitants here since the Paleolithic Age, but the town was established by Berbers in the 7th century.
The old town showcases Berber structures as well ancient mosques and a medieval madrassa. Along the main street are markets selling grain, tapestries, jewelry, and Berber handicrafts. At the end of this street is the 14th century Al-Andalous Mosque, with its unusual minaret that has a wider top than base. The medina’s yellow houses are enclosed by imposing 12th century walls with fortifications. Lower down is the new town, founded by the French as a garrison in 1920. Its military character is still quite evident.