The city of Tetouan is strangely enchanting with its dramatic setting of the somber Rif
Mountains and the cheerful and colorful Martil Valley. The discolored white walls give way
to bursts of color here and there while green tile roofs frame the odd mixture of Spanish and
Moorish architecture. The people here are friendly and very much engaged in the business of
living. Traders guilds abound, which means shopping opportunities are good.
At one time, Tetouan had acquired a reputation amongst foreigners as being a bit touristy – a
place where foreigners had difficult experiences. Fortunately local government realized how
the annoyance was hurting the city tourism so officials began making sure that friendly
guides remained friendly. As a result touring Tetouan has been a very pleasant experience for
many years and you can be sure that a visit to Tetouan will be enjoyable. Indeed, you will be
left to admire the truly beautiful backdrop to the city while you walk between the charming
old buildings as you attempt to imagine living in Morocco’s historical past.
Tetouan was established in 1305 as a base of operations against Sebta. Sometime later it
became a pirate lair until it was destroyed, only to be repopulated in the 16th century by
Muslims and Jews who had been exiled from Andalusia. It wasnt long before the city began
to prosper. Today you will find it surrounded by orchards of oranges, almonds, pomegranates
and cypress trees. The city is noted for its culture. As you make your way around you will
find woman selling their honey, butter, vegetables and herbs in oddly mixed clothing. The
Hassan II Square is where the old and new town meet and is the heart of the city. It has
distinct Andalusian charm with its wrought iron balconies, fountains and flower boxes, and
kiosks and shops are plentiful. As you explore the streets you will likely find that each one is
occupied by a trade guild which can be very interesting to watch.
Besides all this, Tetouan has a number of monuments. A fort, walls and well preserved fences,
mosques, fountains and foundouks all provide an interesting look into the city history. The
Khalifa old palace, a seventeenth century building, is also definitely worth a look as it is an
great example of Hispano-Moresque architecture. After that there are two museums, a
conservatory, a School of Moroccan Art and a College of Fine Arts to visit. However none of
these things quite surpass the experience of walking through the city winding streets and
discovering the history hidden in its walls.