Grottes d'Hercules

The Caves of Hercules - Cave of Africa

Useful Information

Location: Near Tangier. 14 km west of Tangier at Cap Spartel.
Fee: Adults 5 dh, be prepared to haggle or you pay double.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: S Carleton Coon (1957): Seven Caves, Archaeological Explorations in the Middle East. Jonathan Cape, London. plate 2
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


BC 6000 Neolithic habitation.
1878 caves "discovered".
1920 cave open to the public.
1952 National Heritage site.
1982 electric lights installed.
20-DEC-2003 closed to the public after a rockfall caused by nearby construction work.
JAN-2004 reopened after a brief examination.


Located 14 km west of Tangier in Cap Spartel, the north-western extremity of Africa's Atlantic coast. Cap Spartel is heavily wooded, but below it the Robinson Plage stretches off to the south. The caves are located about 100 meters from the Robinson Plage Holiday Village and surrounded by some expensive cafes.

The caves has been used as a dwelling since Neolithic times. Archaeological excavations have produced human bones and flints. For a long time locals quarried stone here, then, in the first half of the 20th century they were used as brothels, until it was found that tourists were a more lucrative venture.

It is recommended that one visits the caves very early in the morning to avoid being hassled by the locals. The Caves of Hercules are Tangiers premier tourist attraction. Apart from their great beauty and archaeological interest, they are reputed to have been the dwelling place of Hercules who founded Tangier and made the Straits of Gibraltar, with one blow from his sword.

From the entrance kiosk, the guide leads the party along a concrete path, past the old quarry working to a second entrance overlooking the Atlantic ocean. This is called "The Map of Africa", as the outline of the entrance is said to resemble this feature. This entrance is impassable at high tide.

Text by Tony Oldham (2004). With kind permission.

This cave and its neighbouring caves the Al Alia Cave, the Al Khil Cave and the Cave of Ace Sayfia contain prehistoric remains from the Neolithic. The findings are currently on display at the museum of Kasba of Tangier. They include smooth, red pottery, polished rocks, cut flint and terra cotta figurines.