Tetouan, « the white dove »
Clinging to the flanks of the Jebel Dersa, this pretty Arabo-Andalusian city dominates the fertile valley of the Martil oued. Behind its imposing ramparts, Tetouan hides a big medina filled with terraces and gardens of simple charm. Its sinuous labyrinthine roads contrast marvellously with the new city’s Hispano-Moorish architecture. Proud of its flourishing artisanship, the white dove merits a visit of at least a few days.
Visiting Tetouan’s medina
- Start your exploration of the city at the Hassan II square that feature Tetouan’s old caliphate palace (Dar El Makhzen). This immense esplanade is the city’s liveliest.
- The souks are only a couple steps away: take the Mexuar road and plunge into the medina. You’ll enjoy loosing yourself down its alleyways and arched passageways in a mysterious and enchanting atmosphere. You can’t loose yourself in the souks, each road is devoted to a specific craft: cabinetmakers, copper working, leather-working, spices, the list goes on…Discover all the secrets of Rif know-how!
- Near the Hassan II square, take the time to discover Tetouan’s Mellah: this old Jewish quarter is home to many traditional shops. Meandering through this neighbourhood, you’ll see beautiful facades, doors and windows embellished with coloured ceramics and elegant ironworks. (From Hassan II Square take the rue de la Luneta).
- Art lovers will delight in a visit to Tetouan’s artisanal school. Many different trades are taught here including, leather working, wood crafts, ceramics, fabrics and wool. Become familiar with the artisanship of the region to know exactly what it is you’re bringing back in your suitcase! (From Hassan II square, take rue Ach Ahmed Torrès and continue straight to the medina’s eastern gate).
Tetouan’s spanish colonial architecture
You’ll be surprised by the imposing balconies and the huge windows and doors set in ironwork of the new city. Everything is here to remind travellers of Andalusia. Built on the barren mountainside, this neighbourhood has great views over the mountain and the Rif foothills.
- Avenue Mohammed V, that links the Hassan II square to that of Moulay Idriss, is lined with surprising buildings: coloured facades and loggia dating back to the early 20th century elegantly testify to the city’s Spanish past. A very pleasant stroll that will take you to the splendid Hassan II mosque.
- You must visit the archaeological museum: it divulges all the secrets of north western Morocco from prehistory times to the 17th century. It has galleries dedicated to Roman antiquity, to the Phoenicians and to the Punic civilization. (Near the Al Jalal square and avenue Mohamed V)
Excursions around Tetouan
- Don’t miss the ruins of the ancient city of Tamuda: the region’s settlement and commercial exploitation dates back to Phoenician Punic times (third century B.C), and was a place of great prosperity.
- The Rif beaches: between Tetouan and Ceuta, relax on the beach of Martil, Cabo Negro, Kabila or Smir.
- The Khemis El Anjra market: every Thursday, this village comes to life sporting the Rif’s most beautiful colours. A beautiful show that brings together all of the region’s farmers.
- Oued Laou: a great excursion awaits hikers here in the lands of rhomora! After you’ve crossed the Martil Valley, you’ll climb the Rif slopes. In the middle of pine forests, the view plunges onto the wild coves of the Moroccan coast. Once you’ve arrived at the village of Oued Laou, relax on its beach and down its picturesque streets.
Tetouan is less than 60 km from the Tangier airport. The proximity of the ocean makes the Rif region’s climate rather mild and wetter than in the rest of Morocco.