Tetouan was built near the Roman city of Tamuda, situated five kilometers, on the outskirts of the city. Tetouan is 60 km east of the city of Tangier and 40 km south of the Spanish exclave of Sebta and the Strait of Gibraltar. It is in the far north of Morocco’s Rif Mountain town Chefchaouen, the Blue Pearl, which is located to the south and west of the city.
Tetouan has much to offer and is an essential port of call on any trip to the North of Morocco.
The Medina of Tetouan flourished during the eleventh and twelfth centuries as a little town and was demolished by the Spanish during the beginning of the fifteenth century. The traditional Islamic city was rebuilt during the end of the fifteenth century by Sidi Ali Al Mandari who emigrated from the Andalusian city of Granada to escape the persecution of the Inquisition.
Tetouan has continued to flourish as a dynamic center of economic, social, and cultural activities where Christians and Jews lived peacefully side by side. This city reflects a variety of cultural influences including local Moroccan, Andalusian, Ottoman, and Spanish. The port of Tetouan was a base for pirates and on 4th February 1860 it was taken by the Spaniards under Leopoldo O’Donnell, (a descendant of an old Irish royal family, O’Donnell of Tyrconnell, who was made hereditary Duke of Tetuan, and later Prime Minister of Spain.
The Spanish built part of the city which served as the capital of the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco from 1912 to 1956. It has been perfectly conserved. It extends westwards from the Medina. Tetouan is worth visiting for its architectural beauty which represents a diversity of Spanish trends while being clearly influenced by the Islamic traditions and building techniques used in the Medina. An important part of the history of the Ensanche or Spanish part of the city is recorded in the archives of the General Library and Archives of Tetouan. Spanish architectural influence is one of the reasons why Tetouan looks different from other cities in the south of Morocco.
The scholars of Tetouan are famous in many disciplines including jurisprudence, literature to history, and music.
Culturally, Tetouan is known for its traditional arts including embroidery, mosaics, and hand-carved and painted wooden objects. The scholars of Tetouan are famous in many disciplines including jurisprudence, literature to history, and music. The traditions of Tetouan could be appreciated in the Ethnographic Museum or the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts. Tetouan’s famous School of Fine Arts, the first of its kind in Morocco, has produced some of Morocco’s best painters over the last fifty years. Tetouan’s Archaeological Museum reflects the past history of the Phoenician and Roman city of Tamouda.
Tetouan was highly influenced by its Sephardi Jewish community who fled from Spain,
Among the important influences on Tetouan was the Sephardi Jewish community, which fled from Spain after the Reconquista and the Spanish Inquisition. This Jewish Sephardi community spoke a form of Judaeo-Spanish known as Haketia. There are very few of them left in Tetouan. Tetouan also received an influx of Algerians fleeing the French invasion of Algeria in 1830 and their influence on some of the other local artifacts are still seen today.
The UNESCO listed Tetouan Medina can be entered through seven imposing gateways leading to a fascinating labyrinth of narrow passages alleyways that house hundreds of small shops and workshops where you can watch craftsmen make leather goods, mother of pearl inlaid wood furniture, marble, copper. Tetouan is not as well known as the imperial cities of Fes, Meknes, or Marrakech yet it has much to offer and is an essential port of call on any trip to the North of Morocco.