The eerily empty outpost of Sidi Ifni, with its fabulous decaying Spanish art-deco architecture, often shrouded in Atlantic mists in July and August, is a haunting reminder of Spanish imperial ambitions. At the heart of what was the Spanish Sahara, Sidi Ifni was once a base for slave-trading operations and later a large exporter of fish to the Spanish mainland. Returned to Moroccan control only in 1969, the splendid esplanade and calles (streets) are still quintessentially Spanish in character. The town’s unhurried pace of life attracts a surprising number of visitors, and it is an increasingly popular base for surfing and paragliding.

sidi ifni
Spain acquired the enclave of Sidi Ifni after they defeated the Moroccan forces in the war of 1859. They christened their new possession Santa Cruz del Mar Pequeña, but seem to have been uncertain what to do with it as they did not take full possession until 1934. Most of Sidi Ifni dates from the 1930s and features an eclectic mix of faded art-deco and traditional Moroccan styles. On Moroccan independence in 1957, Spain refused to withdraw, citing the fact that some 60% of the town’s population was Spanish. The protracted dispute over territorial rights eventually ended with a UN-brokered agreement for Spain to cede the enclave back to Morocco in 1969. Santa Cruz was renamed Sidi Ifni, after a holy man buried in the town in the early 1900s. Ifni still celebrates ‘Independence Day’ (30 June) with a festival on the abandoned airfield.

Timbre de Sidi Ifni


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