The Full Wiki

Melilla: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Melilla

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Autonomous City of Melilla
Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla
—  Autonomous City  —
Flag of Melilla
Coat-of-arms of Melilla
Coat of arms
Map of Melilla
Coordinates: 35°18′N 2°57′W / 35.3°N 2.95°W / 35.3; -2.95Coordinates: 35°18′N 2°57′W / 35.3°N 2.95°W / 35.3; -2.95
 - President Juan José Imbroda Ortíz (PP)
Area ( of Spain; Ranked)
 - Total 12.3 km2 (4.7 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 - Total 72,000
 - Density 5,853.7/km2 (15,160.9/sq mi)
 - Percent 0.15% of Spain
ISO 3166-2 ES-ML
Parliament Cortes Generales
Congress seats 1
Senate seats 2
Website Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla

Melilla (Tarifit: Tamelilt/Mritch, meaning "the white one") is an autonomous Spanish city located on the Mediterranean, on the north coast of North Africa. It was regarded as a part of Málaga province prior to 14 March 1995, when the city's Statute of Autonomy was passed.

Melilla was a free port before Spain joined the European Union. As of 2008 it has a population of 71,448. Its population consists of Christians, Muslims (chiefly Berber), and small minorities of Jews and Hindus. Both Spanish and Tarifit-Berber are widely spoken. Spanish is the official language, while there have been calls to recognize Berber as well.[1]


Political status

Melilla is, along with Ceuta, one of the two Spanish autonomous cities located in mainland North Africa.

Morocco claims Melilla, along with Ceuta and various small Spanish islands off the coast of Africa (Plazas de soberanía) that are sovereign posts. Morocco bases its claim on the fact that the area was part of the Idrisid and other succeeding Muslim dynasties from 791 until 1497, when the city was taken by Castile.

The government of Morocco has also drawn comparisons with Spain's territorial claim to Gibraltar, which is a British Overseas Territory situated on the mainland of Spain. In both cases, the national governments and local populations of the contended territories reject these claims by a wide margin. Spanish sources claim that unlike the Protectorate territories included in former Spanish Morocco Melilla has been a constituent part of Spain since the very dawn of Spain as an independent country, the city being a part of Castile for longer than even other current Spanish regions such as Navarre.

These sources also dispute any ties between the former Muslim dynasties ruling the city and the present day Kingdom of Morocco, noting that if those latter dynasties were to be considered, most of present day Spain would be a part of Morocco, as well.

The history of Melilla is similar to that of Moroccan towns in the region of the Rif and southern Spanish towns, passing through Amazigh, Phoenician, Punic, Roman, Ummayyad, Idrisid, Hammudid, Almoravid, Almohad, Merinid, and then Wattasid rulers before being annexed by Spain five years after the latter kingdom completed the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula in 1492.

Melilla and Ceuta are the only two European-Union territories located in mainland Africa. The amateur radio call sign used for both cities is EA9.


Melilla is subdivided into eight wards or neighborhoods (barrios):[2]

  1. Barrio de Medina Sidonia
  2. Barrio del Real
  3. Barrio de la Victoria
  4. Barrio de los Héroes de España
  5. Barrio del General Gómez Jordana
  6. Barrio del Príncipe de Asturias
  7. Barrio del Carmen
  8. Barrio de La Paz


Weather data for Melilla
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 16
Daily mean °C (°F) 13
Average low °C (°F) 10
Avg. precipitation days 8 9 9 7 6 3 1 2 3 7 7 8 70
Source: Weatherbase[3]


Melilla city

The principal industry is fishing; cross-border commerce (legal or smuggled) and Spanish and European grants and wages are the other income sources.

Melilla is regularly connected to the Peninsula by plane and vessels and also economically connected to Morocco: most of its fruits and vegetables are imported across the border. Also, Moroccans in the city's influence area are attracted to it: 36,000 Moroccans cross the border daily to work, shop, or trade goods.

Map of Melilla, Spain


Melilla was a Phoenician and later Punic establishment under the name of Rusadir. Later it became a part of the Roman province of Mauretania Tingitana. As centuries passed, it went through Vandal, Byzantine and Hispano-Visigothic hands. Melilla was part of the Kingdom of Fez until The Catholic Monarchs (Spanish: los Reyes Católicos) Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon requested Juan Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, known as Guzmán el Bueno, the 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia to take the city. The duke sent Pedro Estopiñán who conquered the city virtually without a fight in 1497[4], a few years after (1492) Castile had taken control of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, the last remnant of Al-Andalus. Melilla was immediately threatened with reconquest and was besieged 1694–1696 and 1774–1775. One Spanish officer reflected, "an hour in Melilla, from the point of view of merit, was worth more than thirty years of service to Spain."[5] The Spaniards also experienced much trouble with the neighboring tribes—the turbulent Rif, independent Berbers (Amazighs) hardly subject to the sultan of Morocco.

The current limits of the Spanish territory around the fortress were fixed by treaties with Morocco in 1859, 1860, 1861, and 1894. In the late 19th century, as Spanish influence expanded, Melilla became the only authorized centre of trade on the Rif coast between Tetuan and the Algerian frontier. The value of trade increased, goat skins, eggs and beeswax being the principal exports, and cotton goods, tea, sugar, and candles being the chief imports.

In 1893, the Rif berbers besieged Melilla, and 25,000 men had to be dispatched against them. In 1908 two companies, under the protection of El Roghi, a chieftain then ruling the Rif region, started mining lead and iron some 20 kilometers from Melilla. A railway to the mines was begun. In October of that year the Roghi's vassals revolted against him and raided the mines, which remained closed until June 1909. By July the workmen were again attacked and several of them killed. Severe fighting between the Spaniards and the tribesmen followed.

In 1910, the Rif having submitted, the Spaniards restarted the mines and undertook harbour works at Mar Chica, but hostilities broke out again in 1911. In 1921 the Berbers under the leadership of Abd el Krim inflicted a grave defeat on the Spanish (see Battle of Annual), and were not pacified until 1926, when the Spanish Protectorate finally managed to control the area again.

General Francisco Franco used the city as one of his staging grounds for his rebellion in 1936, and a statue of him - the last statue of Franco in Spain - is still prominently featured.

On 6 November 2007, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia visited the city, which caused a previously unknown jubilee in the city, expressed by a massive support demonstration while, on the other side, it also sparked protests from the Moroccan government.[6] It was the first time a Spanish monarch had visited Melilla in 80 years.

City culture and society

Lighthouse of Melilla

Melilla's Capilla de Santiago or James's Chapel, by the city walls, is the only genuine Gothic architecture in Africa.

In the first quarter of the 20th century, Melilla became a thriving port benefitting from the recently established Protectorate of Spanish Morocco in the contiguous Rif. The new architectural style of Modernisme was expressed by a new bourgeois class. This style, frequently referred to as the Catalan version of Art Nouveau, was extremely popular in the early part of the 20th century in Spain.

The workshops inspired by the Catalan architect, Enrique Nieto, continued in the modernist style, even after Modernisme went out of fashion elsewhere. Accordingly, Melilla has the second most important concentration of Modernist works in Spain after Barcelona.

Melilla has been praised as an example of multiculturalism, being a small city in which one can find up to three major religions represented. However, the Christian majority of the past, constituting around 65% of the population at one point, has been shrinking, while the number of Muslims has steadily increased to its present 45% of the population.

Jews, who had lived in Melilla for centuries, have been leaving the Spanish North African city in more recent years (from 20% of the population before World War II to less than 5% today). There is a small, autonomous, and commercially important Hindu community present in Melilla, as well. The culture in this little city is thus virtually divided into two halves; one being European and the other Amazigh. While the first is represented all over the rest of the country, the second, being represented only in this little part of Spain, is considered by some, especially in the mainland, to be foreign.


There is considerable pressure by African refugees to enter Melilla, a part of the European Union. The border is secured by the Melilla border fence, a six-meter-tall double fence with watch towers, yet refugees frequently manage to cross it illegally, avoiding the attempts by Spanish police to take them back to their home countries. Detection wires, tear gas dispensers, radar, and day/night vision cameras are planned to increase security and prevent illegal immigration. In October 2005, over 700 sub-Saharan migrants tried to enter Spanish territory from the Moroccan border.


Melilla is connected to the Spanish cities of Malaga, Madrid and Almeria by air as well as to Malaga and Almeria by ferry. Travelling by land from Melilla takes you to Moroccan. It is possible to catch a train from nearby Beni Ansar to the rest of Morocco.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Melilla is twinned with:

See also


This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Melilla [1] is a Spanish exclave in North Africa, on the Moroccan side of the Mediterranean. In some ways, it's kind of like Ceuta but in other ways, it's a unique place.

  • Tourist information office, calle Fortuny 21, 952-67-54-44, [2]. Near the Plaza de Toros, but far from everything else. A better choice is to go to the Tourist Information kiosk outside the Casino Militar on the main plaza, Plaza Espana


You are in Spain. People speak Spanish. But you are also in North Africa, and many people speak Tarifit (Spanish: rifeño, a variety of Berber).

Get in

By car (or on foot)

From Morocco. Melilla is completely surrounded by Moroccan territory (and the sea), and this is obviously a very sensitive border. Many try to cross illegally into Spain, with dire consequences. Crossing legally (in either direction) is also an eye-opening experience, but presents no particular difficulties if you are not transporting counterfeit goods or hashish.

Don't forget that Spain and Morocco are in different time zones, so crossing the border into Melilla you will lose one hour, or two hours in April and May (Morocco only started to observe daylight savings time in 2008).

By plane

Air Nostrum (Iberia Regional) flies from Málaga (8 flights daily), Madrid (3 flights), and one flight from Almería, Granada, and Barcelona.

By boat

There are ferry services run by Acciona Trasmediterránea [3].

  • from Malaga: 8 hours, with a fast ferry (5 hours) in the summer
  • from Almeria: 6.5 hours, with a fast ferry (3.5 hours).

By train

Moroccan train operator ONCF has three trains daily between Taourirt and the Beni-Nsar Port train station, about five minutes' walk from the border. Connections are available at Taourirt with trains to Fès, Rabat, Casablanca, and Oujda.

  • Melilla la Vieja, the fortified old town, on a hill overlooking the port. There is an elevator built into the restored city wall.
  • Plaza de España surrounded by monumental buildings such as the local assembly building, the Casino Militar, and the Bank of Spain.
  • Modernismo architecture, throughout the city, but especially on calle López Moreno and calle del Rey Juan Carlos
  • Or Zoruah Synagogue, calle López Moreno 8. Arabesque architecture, designed by Enrique Nieto in 1924. Downstairs a tacky bargain store, but the façade is well-preserved. Visits can be arranged through the Tourist Information Kiosk on the Plaza Espana


Melilla (like Ceuta) is a territorio franco, which means no VAT or other taxes.

  • Cafetería Los Arcos, calle López Moreno, next to the Sagrado Corazón church. Spanish churros and café con leche, or Moroccan mint tea.


The city is full of cafe/bars but the liveliest part is the Puerto Noray, opposite the big Hotel Puerto Melilla and has many restaurants, bars and nightclubs. And all of the bars look out at the marina.

Stay safe

Melilla is a safe city to visit. There are always lots of people enjoying the beach, etc until late. a visitor who stays near the centre will not have a problem.

Get out

Walking into Morocco

Catch a bus from the Plaza de España to the Moroccan border, 2km to the south. Cross the border into the Moroccan customs and security area and line up at the police kiosk to get your passport stamped. This can take a while. Be sure to go up to the window and ask for an entry form to fill out (in French, Spanish or English) while you wait.

When you get out you will be in the village of Beni Enzar which has the port of Nador with sailings to Almeria or France, where you can find banks (just next to the port)or a collective taxi to the city of Nador. Remember to turn your watch back one or two hours!

This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MELILLA, a Spanish fortified station and penal settlement on the north coast of Morocco, south of Cape Tres Forcas and 135 m. E.S.E. of Ceuta. Pop. about 9000. The town is built on a huge rock connected with the mainland by a rocky isthmus. There is a harbour, only accessible to small vessels; the roadstead outside is safe and has deep water a mile to the east of the fortress. From the landing-place, where a mole is cut out of the rock, there is a steep ascent to the upper town, characteristically Spanish in appearance. The town is walled, and the isthmus protected by a chain of small forts. A Moorish custom-house is placed on the Spanish border beyond the fort of Santa Isabel, and is the only authorized centre of trade on the Riff coast between Tetuan and the Algerian frontier. It thus forms the entrepot for the commerce of the Riff district and its hinterland. Goat skins, eggs and beeswax are the principal exports, cotton goods, tea, sugar and candles being the chief imports. For the period1900-1905the annual value of the trade was about L200,000. Melilla, the first place captured by Spain on the African mainland, was seized from the Moors in 1490. The Spaniards have had much trouble with the neighbouring tribes - turbulent Ruffians, hardly subject to the sultan of Morocco. The limits of the Spanish territory round the fortress were fixed by treaties with Morocco in 1859, 1860, 1861 and 1894. In 1893 the Ruffians besieged Melilla and 25,000 men had to be despatched against them. In 1908 two companies, under the protection of El Roghi, a chieftain then ruling the Riff region, started mining lead and iron some 15 m. from Melilla and a railway to the mines was begun. In October of that year the Ruffians revolted from the Roghi and raided the mines, which remained closed until June 1909. On the 9th of July the workmen were again attacked and several of them killed. Severe fighting between the Spaniards and the tribesmen followed. The Riffians having submitted, the Spaniards, in 1910, restarted the mines and undertook harbour works at Mar Chica.

See Budgett Meakin, The Land of the Moors (London, 1901), ch. xix., and the authorities there cited; P. Barre, "Melilla et les presides espagnols," Rev. francaise (1908).

Meline, Felix Jules (1838-), French statesman, was born at Remiremont on the 10th of May 1838. Having adopted the law as his profession, he was chosen a deputy in 1872, and in 1879 he was for a short time under-secretary to the minister of the interior. In 1880 he came to the front as the leading spokesman of the party which favoured the protection of French industries, and he had a considerable share in fashioning the protectionist legislation of the years 1890-1902. From 1883 to 1885 Meline was minister for agriculture, and in1888-1889he was president of the Chamber of Deputies. In 1896 he became premier (president du conseil) and minister for agriculture, offices which he vacated in 1898. At one time he edited La Republique francaise, and after his retirement from public life he wrote Le Retour a la terre et la sur production industrielle, tout en faveur de l'agriculture (1905).

Melingue, Etienne Marin (1808-1875), French actor and sculptor, was born in Caen, the son of a volunteer of 1792. He early went to Paris and obtained work as a sculptor on the church of the Madeleine, but his passion for the stage soon led him to join a strolling company of comedians. Finally chance gave him an opportunity to show his talents, and at the Porte Saint Martin he became the popular interpreter of romantic drama of the Alexandre Dumas type. One of his greatest successes was as Benvenuto Cellini, in which he displayed his ability both as an actor and as a sculptor, really modelling before the eyes of the audience a statue of Hebe. He sent a number of statuettes to the various exhibitions, notably one of Gilbert Louis Duprez as William Tell. Melingue's wife, Theodorine Thiesset (1813-1886), was the actress selected by Victor Hugo to create the part of Guanhumara in Burgraves at the Comedie Frangaise, where she remained ten years.

See Dumas, Une Vie d'artiste (1854).

<< Melicertes

Meliorism >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun


  1. A Spanish enclave at the edge of Morocco

See also

Simple English

Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla
File:Flag of File:EscudoMelilla.gif
In Detail In Detail
File:Locator map of
 – Total
 20 km²
 – Total (2003)
 – Density

Name for inhabitants
 – English
 – Spanish

Statute of Autonomy March 14, 1995
ISO 3166-2:ES ES-ML
 – Congress seats
 – Senate seats
President Juan José Imbroda Ortíz (PP)
Ciudad Autónoma de Melilla

Melilla is a city in North Africa, right opposite Spain. It belongs to Spain, and is all surrounded by Morocco, which believes it should belong to them. Ceuta is another such city.

Its surface is about 20 square kilometers, and there are almost 70,000 people living there.

Other websites

Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address