Cape Spartel (Arabic: رأس سبارطيل) is a promontory in Morocco about 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level at the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar, 12 km West of Tangier. Below the cape are the Caves of Hercules.
Cape Spartel is frequently but incorrectly referred to as the northernmost point of Africa, which is instead Ras ben Sakka, Tunisia. It is the most North Western point of mainland Africa. The cape rises to a height of 326 m. at the top of Jebel Quebir where there is a tower. There is another tower nearer to the end of the cape which serves as a lighthouse.
Below the cape are the Caves of Hercules. These are open to the public and they are accessible from Robinson Plage. The caves have shown evidence of neolithic occupation. Before they were a tourist attraction they were brothels. Historically the rock was mined and this is one important cause of the caves creation.
Near Cape Spartel is Spartel Bank, a sunken island hypothesized by some as the location of the legendary island of Atlantis.
Cape Spartel is accessible from the National Road S701.
During the American War of Independence on 20 October 1782 there was an inconclusive battle between British and French/Spanish fleets about 18 miles off the coast, the Battle of Cape Spartel between ships under Admiral Luis de Córdova y Córdova and a British fleet under Admiral Richard Howe. The battle was required to maintain British supplies to the besieged Rock of Gibraltar.
In December 1911, the British P&O liner, SS Delhi, ran aground near to Cape Spartel. All passengers were rescued by British and French warships, but three French rescuers were lost.
The Battle of Cape Espartel was a naval battle on 29 September 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. The engagement took place between two Nationalist cruisers and two Republican destroyers, and broke the Republican blockade of the Strait of Gibraltar, securing the naval supply route to Spanish Morocco for the Nationalists early in the war.