Tetouan, often spelled Tetuán, is a Moroccan city in north-central Morocco. The Martil River connects it to the Mediterranean Sea, which is 7 miles (11 kilometres) away (Wadi Martil).
The phrase derives from the Berber term “Titawin,” which means “eyes.”
The town is constructed on a rocky plateau that separates it from Mount Dersa’s southern face, which it overlooks. Tamuda, an ancient Roman hamlet, was situated immediately above the modern-day city of Rome. Tetouan was founded in the 9th century by the Idrisid dynasty and reinforced by the Marinid dynasty in the 14th century, when the city was christened Tetouan.
Tétouan, in addition to being a commercial city, has a robust economy based on handicrafts and light industries. It has a music school, many craft schools, national museums of archaeology and traditional arts, as well as an archival library and archive. The road network connects it to the city of Tangier (Tanger), Al-Hocema, and Ouazzane. Cereals (mostly wheat), citrus fruits (especially oranges), tea, sheep, goats, cattle, cork, and olive trees are among the agricultural goods farmed in the surrounding area. Because of its closeness to Mediterranean beaches, the city is a popular summer tourist destination for many Moroccans. In 2014, the population was 380,787 people.
What to do and see in Tetouan:
1. Visit the ancient Madina:
Tetouan’s medina is one of Morocco’s smallest, yet it is also one of the most complete in the nation. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been declared for the Spanish-influenced medina, which has remained virtually untouched since the 17th century with the exception of a few contemporary renovations. Wandering across the country’s diverse ethnic regions, which include Andalusian, Berber, and Jewish communities, allows visitors to experience Moroccan history firsthand.
Tetouan’s old town is protected by five kilometres of rampart walls with crenellations and seven outstanding entrances. According to folklore, the city was destroyed by the Spanish in 1400 and rebuilt by the Islamic Moors who fled there during the 15th-century Reconquista. Their architectural influence may be seen in the white Andalusian houses that have remained almost untouched since the 17th century, as well as in the surrounding environment. Artists and crafters exercise their ancient talents in designated souks, while mosques, kasbahs, and the Royal Palace on Hassan II Square evoke the grandeur of a bygone era.
2. The Archaeological Museum is number two.
The Archaeological Museum, situated in the city centre, displays artefacts discovered in ancient settlements around Northern Morocco. This includes Tamuda, a Roman city just west of Tetouan. The collection includes Punic coins, bronze implements, 1st-century figures, and Libyan-Berber stone inscriptions. It is separated into prehistoric and pre-Islamic eras. A Roman mosaic of the Three Graces and a Sumerian figure discovered near the modern-day city of Asilah are among the highlights. Spend some time in the museum garden, where you may see mosaics from the Roman city of Lixus among Islamic artefacts and gravestones.
Two cities arose and fell on Tetouan’s grounds prior to its creation in the 15th century. The Archaeological Museum is dedicated to revealing the history of ancient Tetouan, showcasing breathtaking relics that educate visitors about the city’s past. Among the exhibits on display at this museum are ancient coins, pottery, mosaics, and antique inscriptions. Wednesday through Monday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
3. Iglesia de Bacturia Church
Tetouan’s Spanish influence can still be felt today, and nowhere is this more clear than at the Iglesia de Bacturia, the city’s lone surviving church.
Tetouan’s lone church, the Roman Catholic Iglesia de Bacturia, is a rare in a country famed for mosques. The church, built in 1917, is still in use today. In fact, the city is one of the few in Morocco where church bells sound out the call to prayer in addition to the muezzin’s summons. There are still regular services conducted there. Every Sunday, you have the choice of attending daily mass at 7:00 p.m. or 11:00 a.m.
4. Pay a visit to the Dar Sanaa artisan centre.
Dar Sanaa, the city’s old arts and crafts school, represents Tetouan’s artistic tradition more than anywhere else. The edifice, located near the medina’s eastern gateway, Bab el-Okla, is an outstanding example of neo-Arabic architecture. Inside, visitors may witness local artists working on methods that have been honed through time in a variety of studios. Among these are wood painting, embroidery, marquetry, and the creation of zellij mosaics. If the masters’ work inspires you, you may purchase it here or at the souks of the medina.
This artisan centre, situated just outside Bab el-Okla in a beautiful Hispano-Moorish edifice, was established in 1919 by noted Italian painter Mariano Bertuchi with the objective of preserving Tetouan’s Hispano-Moorish art legacy. Dar Sanaa currently provides lessons in traditional Moroccan arts. By visiting the spectacular edifice with its studios and charming courtyard, you may learn about Tetouan’s local art culture. Saturday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; and Friday, 8:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
5. Modern Art Museum
Tetouan is recognised for its thriving creative population, so it’s only right that one of Morocco’s two modern art museums is located here. The Tetouan Museum of Modern Art is set in a lovely historic railway station constructed in the Andalusian style. It houses both a permanent collection of contemporary Moroccan art and a variety of temporary shows.
It is crucial to highlight, however, that the city’s inventiveness is not restricted to traditional arts and crafts. Tetouan is also home to one of Morocco’s only two modern art museums, the other of which is located in Rabat, Morocco’s capital city, which is also located in Tetouan. The museum, situated in a historic railway station that formerly functioned as a rail link between Spain’s enclave of Ceuta and the rest of the globe, is a sight to see in and of itself. Within the castle-like walls, you’ll find five exhibition rooms displaying a permanent collection of the best contemporary art and sculpture from Morocco, as well as works by foreign artists. The museum hosts visiting exhibitions on a regular basis and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays.
6. Ethnography Museum
One of the finest methods to learn about Morocco’s history and traditions is to tour the most precious collections of the country’s historic villages. This excellent museum’s various exhibition rooms include a broad range of antiques, including hand-embroidered pillows, artistically designed baskets, firearms, crafts, and traditional wedding accoutrements, among other things.
The Ethnographic Museum, which is close to Dar Sanaa and is housed in Sultan Moulay Abderrahman’s fortress, was erected in the nineteenth century. The museum, which is dedicated to Tetouan’s history and culture and displays a great variety of costumes, jewellery, needlework, instruments, weapons, and furniture in authentic Tetouani chambers, is a must-see for anybody visiting the city. Traditional local cuisine is served in the kitchen, and the Trousseau Room is a special feature. The sumptuous Tetouani wedding procedure is shown throughout the museum via a great collection of marriage chests and wedding linens, as well as ceremonial clothing.
7. Visit the seashore
You may be at the beach in 20 minutes, exploring the various fishing villages, ports, and beach resorts that the region has to offer. The nearby Smir Laguna acts as a stopover for thousands of migratory birds. Tamuda Bay is a high-end development featuring five-star hotels, spas, and golden beaches. M’diq beach resort is a popular day-trip destination for both residents and visitors due to its beachside promenade and excellent seafood restaurants. Cabo Negro is home to the Royal Golf Club, which has 18 holes. Instead, adrenaline seekers may partake in sports like as jet-skiing, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, and scuba diving, while history buffs will admire Martil, Tetouan’s harbour that formerly served as a pirate’s stronghold.
8. Attend a yearly festival.
Every year, Tetouan hosts a plethora of art and music events, many of which are influenced by the city’s Andalusian heritage. Two of the city’s most notable yearly events are the Women’s Voice Festival, which recognises Moroccan women’s contributions to the Arabic music industry, and the International Lute Festival, a three-day showcase of the world’s greatest lute musicians. Since 2004, Tetouan has also hosted the International Festival of Comic Strips. The Tetouan Mediterranean Film Festival is without a doubt the most well-known of the events.
9. Go hiking in the Rif mountains.
Hiking, mountain biking, caving, and canyoning are just a few of the adventurous outdoor activities available in the nearby Rif Mountains. Talassemtane National Park begins close outside Chefchaouen and comprises a spectacular landscape of towering peaks and cascading valleys. The park’s unique Moroccan fir and black pine habitat is home to 35 different animal species, including the endangered Barbary macaque. Birders should keep an eye out for the magnificent golden eagle, which is regularly seen riding thermals above the park. Talassemtane is a 2.5-hour drive from Tetouan and is ideal for an overnight camping trip.
10. Take a day excursion to Chefchaouen.
Tetouan is also an ideal starting point for seeing other sights in northern Morocco, such as Chefchaouen, a highland settlement. Chefchaouen, with its sky blue buildings and gorgeous cobbled medina, is a laid-back artists’ enclave surrounded by stunning mountain views and a quaint cobbled medina. It, like Tetouan, served as a safe haven for Muslim and Jewish refugees escaping the Spanish Reconquista in the 15th century, and many of the city’s most notable structures date from this time. Before enjoying local cuisine or shopping for handmade things in the city’s souks, save your memories of the kasbah, the Grande Mosquée, and the medina walls.
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