What’s more, Ceuta has historically been a gateway to Europe rather than one to Africa. As noted above, the city was difficult to take, but even after it was taken, the mountains surrounding it meant that you couldn’t easily advance into the Moroccan interior. However, many invasions of the Iberian Peninsula and reinforcements of Muslim positions there were launched from its harbor. In fact, one could take this “gateway” pattern even up to the present, where desperate African economic migrants try to use it as a stepping-stone to continental Europe.
Via Coming Anarchy