Grottoes of Hercules – Historic Tale Told in these Tangier Caves

The city of Tangier in Morocco is situated on the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar on the North African coast. This city, which went through a period of relative obscurity, has been experiencing an increase in tourism once more. Its close proximity to Europe makes it easily accessible to tourists who want to experience the mystical beauty of this North African city.

According to Berber mythology, the City of Tangier was built by Sufax who was the son of Tinjis, the wife of the Berber hero Antaios. There are also stories of Tangier being founded by the Greek demi-god, Hercules.

The Grottoes of Hercules (also known as the Caves of Hercules) are situated 14 km west of the city of Tangier. This cave is a significant tourist attraction – something which often has a lot to do with its association with Greek mythology. Hercules is believed to have slept in these grottoes before attempting one of 12 labors. These 12 labors were given to him by King Eurystheus of Tiryns and took Hercules 12 years to complete. Hercules traveled all over in order to complete these tasks. What were they?

Different ancient poets have given accounts of Hercules’s labors, so the details of how they were accomplished have slight variations. But the tasks themselves were: Kill the Nemean Lion; Kill the Lernean Hydra; Capture the Cerynian Hind; Capture the Erymanthian Boar; Clean the Augean Stables; Kill the Stymphalian Birds; Capture the Cretan Bull; Capture the Horses of Diomedes; Take the Girdle of the Amazon Queen Hippolyte; Capture the Cattle of Geryon; Take the Golden Apples of the Hesperides; and Capture Cerberus. Certainly no easy tasks there! Take for example the task of killing the Lernean Hydra. This was an evil, snakelike creature that had nine heads. If one head was injured, two would grow in its place. Hercules overcame this difficulty by quickly slicing off all the heads, while his charioteer, Iolaus, sealed the wounds with a torch. Hercules then used the blood of the Lernean Hydra to poison the tips of his arrows, which were later used in the task of killing the Stymphalian Birds. No wonder he needed somewhere quiet to rest!

The Grottoes of Hercules are of archeological, historical and mythological significance, as well as great beauty. Clearly, anyone taking a trip to the city of Tangier should make a point of visiting the Grottoes of Hercules.

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