- Place or Religious Monument
- Castle and fortress
- Place or Historical Monument
- Unesco World Heritage
- Off the beaten track
Amazing! Clinging to the foothills of the Rif Mountains, the town of Tétouan, with its brilliant white buildings, is a sight for sore eyes. Founded during the Middle Ages by the Spanish Moors and capital of the Spanish protectorate until 1956, the town has retained its Andalusian and Moorish architectural heritage.
Surprisingly it's overlooked by many visitors to Morocco, meaning it has an authentic charm that I certainly appreciated. Taking a stroll through the souk (one of the most incredible in the country) is nothing short of a sheer pleasure. No surprise that it's a classified UNESCO World Heritage Site! To sum up, this is a must during a trip to Morocco - one to put on your to do list before it becomes a tourist trap!
During our trip to Morocco, we made our way from M'Diq to Tétouan in a shared taxi, a journey of around 15 km. It was sheep market day, a monthly occurrence. The women here look different to the North Africans. They wear the 'fouta', a rectangle of striped red and white cloth, and a straw hat which rises to a point, with unique blue wool embroideries. They go to the Rif region to sell their vegetables, which are good quality, fresh and cheap.
We left the market to visit the medina and the bazaars. In the square of Hassan II, at the end of which sits the royal palace, we entered the medina through one of its seven gates. We found ourselves in a jumble of narrow, twisted alleys, some deserted, others bustling, in which you could easily get lost. Houses there stand shoulder to shoulder, with no wasted space. An occasional smell of freshness would drift through one of the archways.
We wandered along the alleyways, taking whichever direction we felt like, and arrived in the bazaars. Every street or area is designated to a different trade. The bazaar, a collection of various odds and ends, was filled with a noisy crowd. We made a prompt exit, feeling like we'd gone back in time a century or two.
The city of Tétouan was of prime importance while the Islamic Empire was carrying out conquests on the European continent. As the city is situated near Andalusia, it was a central point during this whole period. This can still be seen today as Tétouan has several Andalusian influences in its architecture. In fact, the city was rebuilt by the Andalusians as they were expelled from the European continent after the Reconquista.
Its old medina is very small, but the architecture there is truly remarkable. Moreover, it is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Having visited dozens of medinas during my trip to Morocco, I can assure you that the medina in Tétouan stands out from all the others. It has had Andalusian influences, as I mentioned above, but also Jewish and Berber influences. I will leave you to imagine the cultural wealth that results from this!