At the crossroads of Africa and Europe, the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Tangier has an individual character. It is one of the oldest cities in Morocco. The Phoenicians and Carthaginians established trading posts here. The Romans made it a capital city. It was occupied by the Arabs and invaded by Vandals and Visigoths. Before the Spanish, the Portuguese controlled the town. In the early part of the 20th century, Tangier was an international city whose tax-free status and cosmopolitan image attracted European and American artists and writers. Although it has lost a little of its glamorous image, it is still a bustling city with an air of mystery surrounding it. For most visitors that arrive in Morocco by sea, it is their first point of contact with the country. The town beach has a great setting: it makes up a several kilometer long curve with the white houses of Tangier as a frame before it ends in the barren mountains of which there is nothing further north than sea and the European continent. One of the main centers of afternoon and early evening activities in Tangier is along the beach walk. Activities here are rather common, people walk up and down this avenue size street, looking at people and allowing others to look at them. There are several Atlantic beaches west of Tangier, which all offer a good alternative to the town beach. The setting of these beaches can be most attractive, with mountains on all sides, yet with a wide and clean beach with all necessary amenities. The medina of Tangier is a real one: Streets are narrow, houses in many different styles, and most of this medina is in good condition. That is a proof that even people with some money both live and work here. The medina is quite big, and there are many commercial areas. Most of these serve the tourist traffic, and it is more difficult to find any areas where real handcraft is performed. Other areas are solely devoted to living, and there are plenty of nice houses, painted doors, decorated gates and rose bushes all around. The gate to the medina near the Great Mosque is one of the more popular, as it connects directly to the beach walk. It is also the easiest entry to the most fascinating parts of the old parts of Tangier, and you will immediately find yourself walking in narrow streets which soon ends up in the Petit Socco.