For hundreds of years, Spain has controlled the North African enclave of Ceuta. Moroccan independence in 1956 brought no change, as Spain claims a historical right to the area. Ceuta has a population of approximately 75,000, many of whom are Muslims of Berber descent. During its long history, Ceuta has been controlled by the Romans, Byzantines, Moroccans, and Portuguese, and since the 14th century by Spain. The city-enclave is situated on a peninsula jutting out into the Mediterranean. Most of the hotels, restaurants and main buildings are gathered around the tree-filled, circular Place Mohammed V. Downtown Ceuta is just a couple of blocks from the port and the border crossing into Morocco is a mere two miles away.
Ceuta also offers a good starting point for trips into the Rif Mountains and two of the area's historic towns – Tetouan and Chefchaouen.Tetouan was formerly the capital of the Spanish protectorate and is unique for its blend of Andalusian-Moroccan architecture. Its whitewashed medina (old town) offers plenty of local color and is well worth a visit. Chefchaouen, high in the Rif Mountains, is a favorite with travelers for its relaxed atmosphere and fresh mountain air. Its steep medina is one of Morocco's best, with many buildings dating from the 15th and 16th centuries.