Resting on the foothills of the Rif and just a few kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea, this quiet town with heavy Spanish influence should feature in your itinerary for some unique reasons. Your trip to Morocco should include this picturesque city of Tétouan which lies along the Martil Valley, a few miles south of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Literally meaning “the eyes” in Berber, this city was founded in 15th century by the Muslim and Jewish refugees fleeing Christian Andalusia and then later occupied by the Spanish for almost two centuries. Tétouan is a renowned multicultural centre and sees a lot of international tourists who can explore the Hispano-Moorish character that is unique, as being featured in the white buildings and broad boulevards of the Spanish part of the city, also known as the Ensanche.
- Medina of Tétouan
Listed as UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997, this colorful medina symbolizes the flux of Spanish Andalusian and Moroccan culture which is evident in the architecture throughout this medina. Providing a great photography opportunity for the shutterbugs, the narrow alleyways and tiny storefronts explode with products made by local craftsman, weavers, jewelers and leather workers. You might encounter few street vendors who would try and sell carpets. One cannot escape the hustle and bustle of this medina on their Morocco vacation.
- Place Hassan II
Located on Rue Mohammed Benarbi Torres, Place Hassan II is mostly roped off for security reasons and links the medina to the Ensanche. Seems like it houses the Wizard of Oz, with guards standing in front of the long flat façade of the Royal Palace and four bizarre columns towering all around. Considered as the confluence of old and new Tétouan, this place is often frequented by locals and tourists as a meeting point.
- Iglesia de Bacturia
Built in 1926, this Roman Catholic Church with Spanish influence is still very much active. One can hear the church bell ring every hour in Tétouan. In a Muslim dominated city, it is one-of-a-kind experience to visit Iglesia de Bacturia. On your trip to Morocco, you can attend daily mass held here at 7 pm and on Sundays at 11 am.
- Dar Sanaa
Considered as one of the architectural jewel of the city, this artisan center is set in a stunning Hispano-Moorish building just outside Bab el-Okla. Italian painter Mariano Bertuchi had established this in 1919, with the aim of preserving the Hispano-Moorish art heritage in Tétouan. Courses on wood carving, painting, leather works, embroidery and zeilij is offered here. Tourists generally visit the exquisite building with its studios and lovely courtyard to gain some insight of local art and culture.
- Tétouan Museum of Modern Art
Located on Avenue Al Massira, the museum building itself is a marvelous structure that’s worth a visit. The Spanish castle like building was once the railway station to Ceuta. It has been now carefully renovated to protect the artworks and provide ample light inside. On your Morocco vacation, you can witness a wide collection of contemporary Moroccan art and variety of exhibitions, between 9 am to 7 pm from Mondays to Saturdays.
- Ethnography Museum
Established in 1984, this museum is housed in the fortress walls of Sultan Mouly Abderrahman, in Bab el-Okla. Culture vultures and historians can sneak peek here to learn Morocco’s historic past. Within the various exhibition halls of this unique museum, you will be able to view embroidered works, decorated baskets, and customs from marriage ceremonies, weapons and crafts. In the kitchen area, you can even experience traditional Tétouan cuisine and take a sip of some non-alcoholic drinks that are prepared on the premises.
- Archaeological Museum
Operational since 1940s, this museum located in city center, mainly houses a collection of artifacts from digs conducted since the early 20th century at major sites in North Morocco as the ancient Roman city Lixus. On your visit, you can spot ancient objects such as stone tools, Bronze Age objects, axes, prehistoric human remains, earthen and bronze lamps, ceramics, mosaics, Libyan-Berber inscriptions on stone, old coins and bronze statuettes. An interesting venue to study the glorious past of the country, this is a must visit place on your Morocco travel.
- Riad Al Ochak
Literally meaning “Lovers’ Garden” – this public garden designed after the Moorish style is spread across 5 acres of land below the old medina. Created in 1929, this is located at the bottom of the hills on the road down to the Martil Valley and has numerous fountains and ponds. Being a part of city’s heritage, it is often visited by tourists to enjoy the lush green surroundings and colorful flower beds around.