All that many travelers see in Tetouan is the bus station. Meanwhile, this city is very worth it to spend more time here. It is multinational: Spanish, Berber and Jewish cultures have mixed and integrated here for a long time. They speak Arabic, French and Spanish.
According to baglib, Medina Tetouan is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Unlike other Moroccan medinas, Tetouan reflects the unique multicultural history of the northern territory of the country. It is divided into three parts: Andalusian, Jewish and Berber, although the inexperienced eye is unlikely to distinguish offhand where one ends and the other begins.
How to get to Tetouan
Tetouan is a major transport hub in the northern part of the country, and it is not at all difficult to get here by bus. From Tangier it takes no more than an hour (one bus daily), from Casablanca – 6-7 hours (two buses a day, via Rabat), from Rabat – 4-5 hours, from Meknes – 5 hours (daily bus), from Marrakech – 11 am (also daily bus).
The Moorish village on the site of the present Tetouan appeared in the 3rd century BC. e., later both the Carthaginians and the Romans visited here. At the beginning of the 14th century, the city was revived from desolation by the ruling sultan, but in the 15th century the city was destroyed by the Castilians. After the fall of Granada at the end of the Spanish Reconquista, refugees driven out of Spain arrived in Tetouan in the hundreds and thousands, dramatically increasing the local population. The city fell in love with the pirates. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became the capital of Spanish Morocco and remained so for more than 40 years. Also historically, Tetouan was the place where all Moroccan Jews flocked to; although since the middle of the 20th century, almost all of them have left the city, emigrating to other countries.
Entertainment and attractions of Tetouan
Tetouan is located in the middle of a chain of orchards that grow oranges, almonds, pomegranates and cypresses. Nearby are the Rif Mountains, and the city climbs picturesquely up the northern slope of the hill in a valley that descends to the Martil River. The streets of Tetouan are wide and straight, and many of the houses on them once belonged to the local aristocracy; they are decorated with marble fountains and gardens with orange trees. The ceilings in the mansions are often beautifully carved or frescoed like those of Alambre or Granada. Tetouan is also famous for its mosaics: they adorn the floors, columns and lower parts of the walls.
Medina Tetouan is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Unlike other Moroccan medinas, Tetouan reflects the unique multicultural history of the northern territory of the country. It is divided into three parts: Andalusian, Jewish and Berber, although the inexperienced eye is unlikely to distinguish offhand where one ends and the other begins. The houses are white everywhere, mostly low, and all sorts of artisans are walking around – jewelers, tanners, weavers, and street vendors are actively trying to sell carpets to tourists. Due to its small size, the Medina can be explored slowly and without the risk of getting lost. Of course, you can do it yourself, but you will get much more pleasure by going on a guided tour.
One of the most famous local soft drinks is Za3Za3 or ZaaZaa. It’s kind of like a milkshake with avocado, banana, apple, almonds and so much more that can’t be remembered or identified.
Avenue Mohammed V is an exclusively pedestrian street in the city center. In the evening, when the heat of the day subsides, it is filled with people: there are dozens of cafes, boutiques, restaurants, tourist shops, and street vendors scurry here. If you walk further along the avenue, you will reach the stores of used books in various languages of the world, as well as the royal palace.
At the top of the hill above the city stands the old Kasbah, the medieval fortress of the Medina. From here you have a good view of the mountains, and on the territory of the fortress you can easily wander for a couple of hours. Plus, in the Kasbah there is a street filled entirely with jewelry stores alone. Passing through the vegetable market, meat and fish rows and Berber shops, you will find yourself on it. In every showcase here, either gold as such, or clothes and costume items trimmed with it, shines and shimmers.
5 things to do in Tetouan:
- Walk through the Garden of Lovers – a replica of the gardens in the Spanish Granada.
- Hanging around in the city market – a bitch, which at the same time is similar to all similar markets in Arab countries, and, like all of them, is unique.
- Go to a herbal pharmacy and try the aromas of a couple of dozen healing mixtures. Most likely, it will be completely incomprehensible to you what they are treating for, but you can buy something at random, focusing on your own nose.
- Take lots of photos of fat and happy cats in the Kasbah.
- Drink water from a sekayat, a public fountain, bearing in mind that they are still not connected to a modern water supply system, but are supplied with water from natural sources (as it was intended at the time of creation).
During its former glory, there were more than 40 watchtowers in Tetouan. Today there are about 20 of them left: some are united with the city wall, and some stand on their own. The Al-Iskala tower near Bab Al, built in 1820 during the reign of Sultan Abdelrahman, is open to the public.
Tetouan has an archaeological museum located near the Bab Tut gate. Archaeological finds suggest that people lived here more than a million years ago, and many of them are on display in the museum. This includes artifacts found in the caves of Martil and Sidi Abdurrahman. In addition to Stone Age items, the museum displays aerial photographs of Mzura – a kind of Stonehenge – and its three-dimensional model.
The Museum of Moroccan Art is located next to the Bab Okla Gate. Here you can admire, among other things, beautiful mosaics that were found in the houses of Lexos in the 1st-2nd centuries BC. e. In addition, the museum exhibits traditional costumes and local musical instruments.
Next to the museum, in 1928, a school of traditional crafts was opened, where children are admitted at the age of 9, and where they study for 7 years. The school is open for tourist visits, and here you can get really interesting experiences. Students take six courses: modeling, metalwork, ceramics, woodwork, carpet weaving and tailoring, as well as painting with natural colors. Right at the entrance to the school, an exhibition of student works begins, and when you go to the courtyard in the summer, you will almost certainly get to student master classes.
The National Institute of Fine Arts was founded in the city in 1947 by Mariaon Bertuchi, a Spanish artist. Since 2000, the institute has been teaching a course in drawing strips of comics. And in 2004, the annual international strip festival takes place here.
It is better to be careful at the Tetouan bus station: since many travelers simply pass through it, there are ample opportunities for petty crooks.
The Tetouan Museum of Modern Art occupies the building of the old Spanish railway station on Almassera Street. Trains stopped running with the declaration of independence of Morocco, but today the beautiful and rich building has been restored, placing a collection of photographs inside. And in the building of the Ben Abdo house, the Museum of Veterans of the Moroccan War of Independence was opened. It is likely that you have little interest in these events of local history, but the museum is still worth a visit: it is an excellent example of an old city house with paintings and mosaics in the interior, arches and ornate staircases.
But not only Medina is attractive in Tetouan. Walking through the new part of the city, you can admire several beautiful Spanish colonial buildings. In particular, the center of Almanderi near the hotel “Umayma” is an interesting architectural mixture of Spanish and Moroccan traditions. The old building of the Spanish barracks also deserves attention: colorful terracotta and recognizable, it stands near the central passage. And the passage itself with a pointed arch, built in the 1920s, also attracts attention. And finally, it is worth visiting the Catholic Cathedral, which is distinguished by a powerful square clock tower.
Neighborhood of Tetouan
Tamuda Bay is located 15 km from the city, and here, on an area of 50 hectares, a first-class infrastructure for recreation has been created. Luxury hotels and country clubs have golf courses, water parks, shops and restaurants. There are also two marinas for pleasure boats and yachts, the opportunity to rent any equipment for water sports and thalassotherapy centers. The resort area starts from M’dik, which in itself deserves attention due to its romantic port. This is the ideal place for an intimate dinner, after which it will be very pleasant to stroll through the streets of the village and look at the traditional fishing boats. View lovers can walk this way to the lighthouse of Cabo Negro.