Transatlantic Cruise: Ceuta – Is it Spain? Is it Africa? It’s Both!

When we purchased our transatlantic cruise, it included ports of Gibraltar and Monte Carlo.  However, we knew before we left home that those had been substituted out and our new ports were Cueta, Spanish Morocco and Nice, France.

Flexibility is required in travel. I didn’t care about Monte Carlo but I sure wanted to go to Gibraltar. 

We sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar, and past the Rock of Gibraltar on the port side.  We would pass it two more times as we went back out and in again over the next couple days.

The Rock of Gibraltar – maybe next time.

It was interesting to learn that Ceuta is one of two Spanish cities in Africa, the other is Melilla further to the east.

Ceuta was settled in the 7th century BC by the Phoenicians. It provided them strategic advantages due to the narrow strait. It later came under Roman and then Muslim rule.  Ceuta was conquered by Portugal in 1415.

Portugal and Spain were joined in 1580 for an unhappy 60 years. When they separated the citizens of Ceuta had the opportunity to choose whether they wanted to be part of Portugal or part of Spain.  They chose Spain and that was completed in 1668.  A Spanish monarch finally visited Ceuta in 1975 and then again in 2008.

We took a boat trip through the royal moat.  The left side was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese.   The right side was built by Spain in the 18th century.

We saw people “weeding” the moat.

And another kayaking the moat.

As we left the old part of Ceuta, we went by this sports complex showing Olympic Rings  Ceuta has had two Olympic medalists, one male and one female, both medaling in water polo in different games. 

We traveled out into the bay.   From there we could see Morocco in the distance.  There used to be a lot of daily travel back and forth but that has not occurred with COVID restrictions. Our tour guide said she worried about the Moroccan lady who works for her and wonders how she is getting by.

We could see this fortress on the hill.  In the past, if danger was present, someone would set fires to alert the people below.  In more recent years it was a prison and now a military post.

Ceuta Cathedral from the water.

We sailed back into the moat to have our land tour.

We went to Plaza de Africa.  It had all the power centers, the government, the military and the church.

This church is from the 18 century, built by the Portuguese.  It went through refurbishment in 2002.

This staff was held by the original Portuguese governor when he declared his rule in the 15th century.

The Inside.

We walked a bit and found the Casa de los Dragones. It was built in 1905, a mere youngin’ but fun.  The dragons were originally made of bronze and were removed in 1925. New lighter dragons were installed in 2006.

We saw the Ceuta Cathedral from land. It had a similar look to the nearby church on the Plaza de Africa but was much larger.

The inside of the cathedral.

The Pillars of Hercules – Hercules is separating the land to form the Strait of Gibraltar. 

Ahhh.  There is our ship, the Nieuw Statendam.  A welcome sight after a good day of touring in Ceuta, Spanish Morocco, Africa. Our very first time to Africa!

About Serene

Former full time RVers, transitioned to homeowners and travelers. We've still got a map to finish! Home is the Phoenix area desert and a small cabin in the White Mountains of Arizona.
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6 Responses to Transatlantic Cruise: Ceuta – Is it Spain? Is it Africa? It’s Both!

  1. Teri McClelland says:

    Interesting that they are weeding the moat. Is that to keep the roots from breaking down the rock? It looks like hard work.

    The Casa de los Dragones is absolutely beautiful! Looks like you had a wonderful day in Africa.

  2. Mark McClelland says:

    I looked up info on the Hercules statue, thinking that it must be very old. Guess what? Erected around 2006!! I guess that you never know. On the other hand, that staff from the 15th century is pretty amazing.

    • Serene says:

      That is too funny. Europe is such a wild mix of old, older, ancient and something new. They have trouble building something new because every time they excavate they find something ancient underneath.

  3. Catherine says:

    Once again we thank you for your journey information. Interesting. So much to learn.

  4. I love the Casa de los Dragones!

    • Serene says:

      Isn’t that fun! The dragons were brass at first, then were down/disappeared in 1025. Lighter material dragons were installed in 2006. I found that note after I wrote the blog. I think I’ll go back and add that!

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