Tétouan (Arabic: تطوان, romanizedtiṭwān, [titwaːn]), is a city in northern Morocco. It lies along the Martil Valley and is one of the two major ports of Morocco on the Mediterranean Sea, a few miles south of the Strait of Gibraltar, and about 60 kilometres (37 mi) E.S.E. of Tangier. In the 2014 Moroccan census, the city recorded a population of 380,787 inhabitants.[3] It is part of the administrative division Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima.

Official seal of Tétouan
Granada's Daughter[1]
The White Dove[2]
Tétouan is located in Morocco
Location of Tétouan within Morocco
Tétouan is located in Africa
Tétouan (Africa)
Coordinates: 35°34′N 5°22′W / 35.567°N 5.367°W / 35.567; -5.367
Country Morocco
RegionTanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima
 • MayorMustapha Bakkoury
Highest elevation
205 m (673 ft)
Lowest elevation
2 m (7 ft)
 • Total380,787
 • Rank11th in Morocco
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
Postal Code
WebsiteThe official web site
Official nameMedina of Tétouan (formerly known as Titawin)
Criteriaii, iv, v
Designated1997 (21st session)
Reference no.837
RegionArab States

The city has witnessed many development cycles spanning over more than 2,000 years. The first settlements, discovered a few miles outside of the modern city limits, belonged to the ancient Mauretanians and date back to the 3rd century BC. A century later, Phoenicians traded there and after them the site—known now as the ancient town of Tamuda—became a Roman colony under Emperor Augustus.[4][5]

In the late 13th century, the Marinids started by building a casbah and mosque in what is now the old city. Soon after in 1305, the scale of the settlement was expanded by sultan Abu Thabit Amir, who fortified the place.[6] Around the early 15th century, the Castilians destroyed the settlement in retaliation for piracy.

The modern history of the city starts around the late 15th century. It was re-built and fortified by Ali al-Mandri, who emigrated from the Nasrid city of Granada in the decade before it fell in the hands of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile as the War of Granada was completed in 1492. Thousands of Muslims and Jews from Andalusia settled in the north of Morocco and on the ruins of the city of Tétouan.[7] The city went through a prosperous period of reconstruction and growth in various fields and became a center for the reception of Andalusian civilization. It is often linked to Granada and is nicknamed "Granada's Daughter";[1][8] some families still keep keys belonging to their old homes in Granada.[7] It is also nicknamed "Pequeña Jerusalén" (Little Jerusalem) by Sephardi Jews.[9][10] The vast majority of the population are Muslims and small Christian and Jewish communities also exist,[11] although their presence has declined sharply in recent decades.

In 1913, Tétouan became the capital of the Spanish protectorate of Morocco, which was governed by the Khalifa (Moroccan prince serving as Viceroy for the Sultan), and the Spanish "Alto Comisario" accredited to him. It remained the capital until 1956, when Morocco regained its full independence.

Tétouan is a renowned multicultural center.[12] The medina of Tétouan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.[13] It has also been part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the area of Crafts and Folk Art since 2017.[14][15]



According to Leo Africanus, the name comes after the Goths bestowed the government of the town upon a woman with one eye and that the inhabitants called it Tetteguin, meaning "eye" in their language.[16]

The current name is first mentioned in 9th-century Arabic chronicles, after the death of Idris II.[17]



Phoenician and Roman presence


A few miles outside of the city limits lies the ancient town of Tamuda. Early settlements at the outskirts of the actual city by ancient Mauretanians date back to the 3rd century BC. Artifacts from both the Phoenician and the Roman era have been found at the site of Tamuda.[4][5] It became a Roman colony under Emperor Augustus.

Rebuilding the city-state

A street in the old medina - Photograph by Swiss aviator and photographer Walter Mittelholzer (1928)

In 1286, the Marinids built a casbah and mosque there. The first large-scale building project took place in 1305 when the settlement was expanded by the Marinid sultan Abu Thabit Amir.[6] He fortified the place and had it serve as a base for attacks on Ceuta, which had recently come under the rule of a rebellious member of the Marinid dynasty. In 1431, it was destroyed by the Castilians, because pirates used it for their attacks. The Portuguese were already occupying the neighboring Ceuta and in 1436, its commander Pedro de Menezes, 1st Count of Vila Real dispatched a detachment of his garrison under his son Duarte de Menezes to raid Tétouan - which was recovering from the Castillian destruction - in order to prevent it from becoming a threat to future Portuguese operations.[18]

By the end of the 15th century, it was rebuilt by refugees from the Reconquista (reconquest of Spain, completed by the fall of Granada in 1492), when the Andalusian Moors, led by Ali al-Mandri, a captain of the troops loyal to Boabdil, the last king of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, took refuge in the ruined city. They first raised the walls and then filled the enclosure with houses. These Andalusians came into conflict with the Beni Hozmar tribe settling in Jebala lands, after which they asked the Wattasid sultan for protection. In response, he sent 80 soldiers (according to one chronicle, 40 natives of Fez and 40 Riffians). In turn, the Andalusians paid a large amount of mithqal, thus insuring their autonomy. Instantly, the Andalusians, assisted by tribes from the surrounding mountains, started harassing the Spanish possessions on the Moroccan coast. These attacks led to the destruction of the city's harbor by the Spanish in 1565. During this time, the city was governed by the Andalusian Abu Hassan al-Mandri and the city remained autonomous from the Saadi sultans, with the Saadis constantly trying to assert their power.

Piracy and Mazmorras

Naval flag of Tétouan (1783)

As early as the 1530s and 1540s, at the time when Spain and the Ottoman Empire were disputing control over the western part of the Mediterranean, piracy was spreading and soon Tétouan became one of the main centers of piracy in the region.[19] Corsairs considered it as a form of retaliation against the Spanish Reconquista that led to the loss of their homes back in al-Andalus,[20] especially that the timing coincided with the first Morisco influx to Tétouan due to the forced conversions they faced in Spain between 1501 and 1526.[21] Their collaborators included English and Dutch renegades[22] who were mostly Protestants, although a few had converted to Islam.[23]

While the harbor served as a port from where piracy missions were launched, captives were taken to dungeons. There were underground prison complexes with a series of connected excavated caves called Mazmorras. The captives were faced with being sold to the slavery market if ransoms were not paid.[24] These subterranean installations were rediscovered in the early 20th century. A chapel of 90 square meters and a few altars were also uncovered.[25] The sacred site, named Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows), was used by the captives and redeemers like their relatives or Spanish Franciscans and Portuguese Jesuits who used to make frequent visits to negotiate the Christian captives' freedom.[26]

Miguel De Cervantes, himself a captive in Algiers, Algeria between 1575 and 1580, refers to Mazmorras in El juez de los divorcios (The Divorce Judge), where the protagonist compares his marriage to "captivity in Tetouan's caves."[27] He also mentions it in Don Quixote, in addition to talking about Tétouan in El trato de Argel, La gran sultana and La ilustre fregona. It is believed that he had contact with some prisoners who told him about the hardness of the dungeons of Tétouan.[28] Diplomat and explorer Leo Africanus, while visiting the city, mentions in his book Description of Africa that there were 3,000 captives, although some historians dispute that figure.[26] Other accounts came from captives themselves such as Germain Moüette, who spoke of horrible conditions lived inside those mazmorras in the late 17th century. Piracy continued and in 1829, the Austrian Empire bombarded the city in reprisal.[29]

The underground prison was explored in 1922 by Cesar Luis de Montalban, based on a report by archaeologist Manuel Gómez-Moreno Martínez.[30] The Spanish protectorate administration then commissioned architect Carlos Ovilo to study the site but they found out that no excavation could be possible without taking the risk of damaging the housing above the site. Since then, no excavation has taken place, although recently, some researchers and civil associations have called for the authorities to extend exploration and restoration before opening it to the public.[31]

Late military history


In the 17th century, the city was governed by the wealthy al-Naksis family. At the end of the century, the city was taken by the Alaouite sultan Moulay Ismail, who encountered fierce resistance. Tétouan remained fragile, until it was taken by the Alaouite governor of Tangier and leader of a moroccan army that had occupied Tangier after the English had evacuated the possession. The Alaouite governor ushered in a period of stability in Tétouan, building many of the city's landmarks such as the Meshwar palace and the Pasha mosque, the oldest standing mosque in Tétouan. After his death, the city again rebelled and was only nominally controlled by the central government.

Elements of military constructions can be found in the original fortifications such as the three forts, the seven gates, and the large outer walls that surround the old medina.[32][33] They have survived despite the changes that occurred through the expansions known to the city during multiple periods.

Tétouan received a number of Algerian immigrants following the French invasion of Algiers in 1830. According to Bouhlila, they introduced baklava, coffee, and the warqa pastry now used in pastilla.[34][35] For Gil Marks, it was rather the Sephardic Jews who introduced the Ottoman warqa, which the Moroccans substituted for the Spanish pastry.[36]

Hispano-Moroccan War and the Spanish protectorate

The Battle of Tetuan, part of The 1st Conde de Lucena's Moroccan campaigns on behalf of Spain's Queen Isabella II in the early 1860s, painted by Marià Fortuny (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya)

In 1844, Morocco lost a war against the French and in 1856, it signed the Anglo-Moroccan treaties of Friendship with the British. The Spaniards saw the Moroccan defeat in 1844 and the treaties signed in 1865 as a sign of their weakness. Spurred by a national passion for African conquest, Spain declared war on Morocco in 1859 after a conflict over the borders of Ceuta.

After a few months, Tétouan was taken on 4 February 1860 under the command of General Leopoldo O'Donnell, who was a descendant of an old Irish royal family, the O'Donnells of Tyrconnell. He was made hereditary Duke of Tetuán, and later served as Prime Minister of Spain. However, two years later the Spanish evacuated in May 1862.

In 1913, it became the capital of the Spanish protectorate of Morocco, which was governed by the Khalifa (Moroccan prince, serving as Viceroy for the Sultan), and the Spanish "Alto Comisario" accredited to him, and it remained its capital until 1956.

The nationalist movement

Tetouani women affiliated with the Istiqlal Party

Tétouan was one of the most active Moroccan cities in resisting colonialism.[37] The nationalist movement in Tétouan was led by the charismatic leader Abdelkhalek Torres and other personalities such as Abdessalam Bennuna and historian Mohammed Daoud.[38] The movement was part of the pan-Arab nationalist movements. They established deep ties with Arab nationalist leaders such as former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Druze prince and intellectual Shakib Arslan. When Arsalan wanted to visit Morocco in August 1930, he was not given a permit by the French protectorate so instead he went to Tangier, which then had international status under foreign colonial powers, and from there to Tétouan, where he met the group.[39] Many of the members later joined the National Party for Istiqlal. Others joined some other nationalist parties, of which many members were women.[40]

Jewish Festival in Tetouan - Painting by French artist Alfred Dehodencq (1865)

Jewish presence


Tétouan has been home to a significant Sephardi Jewish community which immigrated from Spain after the Reconquista and the Spanish Inquisition. This Jewish Sephardi community spoke a form of Judaeo-Spanish known as Haketia.[41] According to the World Jewish Congress there were only 100 Moroccan Jews remaining in Tétouan by 2015.[42]

In 1790, a pogrom occurred, started by Sultan Yazid. The mellah, where the Jews lived, was pillaged and many women raped.[43] At this point there was an emigration of Tetouani Jews to Gibraltar, where the large Jewish population maintains links with the community in Tetouan.

In 1807, Sultan Slimane relocated the mellah south of the medina to build a large mosque at its previous location inside the medina.[44]

The Mellah of Tetuan was sacked in the Hispano-Moroccan War of 1860, when there were 16 to 18 synagogues.[45] This was followed by appeals in the European Jewish press to support Jewish communities like the one in Tetuan, leading to an international effort called "The Morocco Relief Fund."[46] The Paris-based international Jewish organization Alliance Israélite Universelle, along with Rabbi Isaac Ben Walid of Tetuan, then opened its first school in Tetuan in 1862.[47][48]

Following the exodus of Jews from Morocco after 1948, there were very few Jews left in Tétouan.[49] By 1967, only 12 remained (López Álvarez, 2003). During that period, many emigrated to South America and much later to Israel, Spain, France, and Canada. Today, the only synagogue remaining is the Rabbi Isaac Bengualid Synagogue, which serves as a museum.

Modern history


Tétouan was further expanded when it became the capital of the Spanish protectorate in Morocco between 1913 and 1956. The Spanish administration built several new neighborhoods outside the walled medina. The city underwent an intense urban transformation for which its new neighborhoods and buildings, called "Ensanche" (meaning extension), acquired an image very similar to those of other Spanish cities of the time. Its structure was organized around a large circular plaza, now called 'Plaza Mulay el Mehdi' (formerly Plaza Primo de Rivera).[50] The influence of the protectorate has remained important even after the independence of the country in 1956.

In January 1984, and in the midst of the Years of Lead under the reign of King Hassan II (died 1999), a revolt spread into several cities for a number of days due to price hikes for basic goods following the implementation of the IMF's and the World Bank's structural adjustment programme. The revolt was thwarted by a military intervention.[51] Twenty people were killed in Tétouan and many others were arrested and received heavy sentences.[52]

Many people in the city still speak Spanish. On road signs, names are often written both in Spanish and in Arabic, though many signs are in Arabic and French, the second language of modern Morocco.


An exhibit at the Tétouan Ethnographic Museum.



Tétouan is famed for its fine craftsmanship and musical delicacy and has been part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the area of Crafts and Folk Art since 2017.[14][15] Its cultural heritage is the product of the interaction between different cultural influences throughout centuries. It is mainly characterized by its Andalusian style and way of living,[53] but Berber, Jewish, and colonial Spanish influences are present too.



The city has produced many scholars in different disciplines throughout centuries.[54] One of the first newspapers in Morocco, El Eco de Tetuan, was published in the city in 1860.[55][56] In the colonial period, whereas France took measures to censor publications in Arabic in the area under its control, Tetuan, the capital of the northern Spanish area, became a center of publishing and the capital of Moroccan literary life.[57] Many historic newspapers were published in Tetuan, including the first nationalist publication in Morocco, as-Salaam October 1933,[58] followed by al-Hurriya and others.[59] These were published by members of this intellectual circle in Tetuan that included figures like Abdesalam Bennuna, Muhammad Daoud, Abdelkhaleq Torres, and Abdellah Guennoun.[57][59]



The vast majority of the population are Muslims. There is a small Christian community. The numbers of the Jewish community have declined sharply in recent decades. It numbered no more than a dozen persons in 2014.[11] Notable spiritual leaders include Sufi saint Ahmad ibn Ajiba and Jewish Rabbis Yosef Maimon and Isaac Ben Walid. Tetuan also had a vibrant Sephardi Jewish community with ties to Al-Andalus.[60][61]



The streets are fairly wide and straight, and many of the houses belonging to aristocratic families, descendants of those expelled from Al-Andalus by the Spanish Reconquista, possess marble fountains and have groves planted with orange trees. Within the houses and riads the ceilings are often exquisitely carved and painted in Hispano-Moresque designs, such as are found in the Alhambra of Granada, and the tilework for which Tétouan is known may be seen on floors, pillars, and dados.[62] The city has seven gates which were closed at night up until the early 20th century. Many Sufi Zawiyas are scattered inside the walled old city.



Tétouan has rich culinary traditions unique within Moroccan cuisine.[63] and the influence of, Arab, Amazigh[63]Andalusi, Turkish and Spanish[63] cuisines is noted in the variety of dishes and pastries.[64]

Amazigh and Arab cuisine are present in staples of Moroccan cuisine such as cuscus and rafissa or thrid, respectively.[63]

As in other Moroccan cities like Salé and Fes, Tétouan inherited Andalusi culinary traditions through the waves of migration terminating with the arrival of the expelled Moriscos 1609–1614.[63] This manifests itself in classic dishes such as pastilla. However, the pastilla traditionally made in Tetouan is more savory than sweet, with more preserved lemon and no sugar or almonds.[63]

Tétouan has been also influenced by Algerian and Ottoman cuisine, and this is due to the wave of migrants from Algeria following the French conquest of Algeria.[63][65] This influence manifests itself prominently in the sweets of Tetouan, which include qatayef and baklava.[63]



Traditional craftsmanship is concentrated in the old medina where every industry has its own quarter with the same name where workshops and shops are found. Among them are Zellige (tilework), pottery, plaster engravings, embroidery, inlaying with silver wire, the manufacture of thick-soled yellow slippers, much-esteemed flintlocks, and artistic towels used as capes and skirts by Jebala women in rural areas.[62]

Museums and festivals


The Lucas Museum of Religious Heritage (متحف لوقش للتراث الديني) is housed in the historic Madrasat Lucas in Tetuan.[66] In addition to archaeological, traditional, and modern art museums, as well as an archival library, Tétouan hosts a school of music and many artisan schools.[67] Different music genres of local or regional origins can be found in Tétouan. Traditional Andalusian classical music is the most popular and folk singers such as Abdessadeq Cheqara are widely known in Morocco. Other popular local genres like Taktoka Jabaliya also exist and are usually played at weddings.

Tétouan hosts many international festivals such as the International Mediterranean Film Festival, and the International Oud and Women's Voice (أصوات نسائية) Festival.

On November 20, 2013, the city's Centro de Arte Moderno (Center of Modern Art) was launched and currently holds between 180 and 200 artworks from both self-trained artists and graduates of the city's National Institute of Fine Arts.[68]



The city has its own dialect,[69][70] a particular citadin variant of non-Hilalian Arabic which is distinct from Arabic Jeblia.[71][72] However, Jeblia, which is a dialect of Darija, is predominant since people from the neighboring rural areas settled in the city during the 20th-century rural flights.[73] The use of Spanish and French is still widespread, especially among businessmen and intellectual elites, due to past colonial ties and the geographic proximity to Europe.


A view of the Rif mountains in Tétouan

The city is situated about 60 km east of the city of Tangier and 40 km south of the Strait of Gibraltar. To the south and west of the city, there are mountains. Tétouan is situated in the middle of a belt of orchards that grow oranges, almonds, pomegranates, and cypress trees. The Rif Mountains are nearby, as the city is located in the Martil Valley. It is picturesquely situated on the northern slope of a fertile valley down which flows the Martil river, with the harbour of Tétouan, Martil, at its mouth. Behind rise rugged masses of rock, the southern wall of the Anjera country, once practically closed to Europeans; across the valley are the hills which form the northern limit of the still more impenetrable Rif.[62]



Tétouan features a Mediterranean climate with Köppen climate classification of Csa. Located along the Mediterranean Sea, the weather in Tétouan is mild, cold, and rainy during the winter, hot and dry in the summer months.

Climate data for Tétouan 1991–2020 normals, 1961–present extremes
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 25.4
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 17.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 13.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 9.3
Record low °C (°F) −2.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 93.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 7.6 7.4 7.4 6.8 4.4 1.0 0.2 0.6 3.1 6.8 7.7 8.7 61.7
Average relative humidity (%) (at 7:00) 83 83 86 85 79 78 75 77 84 85 86 82 82
Mean monthly sunshine hours 176.7 180.0 182.9 201.0 282.1 306.0 325.5 306.9 237.0 204.6 159.0 167.4 2,729.1
Mean daily sunshine hours 5.7 6.3 5.9 6.7 9.1 10.2 10.5 9.9 7.9 6.6 5.3 5.4 7.5
Source 1: NOAA[74]
Source 2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (humidity, sun 1961–1990),[75] Météo climat (extremes)[76]



Education and the national movement


During the 1920s, activists belonging to the national movement in northern Morocco, especially in Tétouan under Spanish protectorate, made science and education a supreme goal of their struggle to combat colonialism. In 1924, and after considerable effort and determination, they established a primary school and named it the "Al Madrasa al-Ahliyah" (Arabic: المدرسة الأهلية meaning National School). Among them were historian Mohammed Daoud, Abdel Salam Bennouna, and Mustafa Afilal. To this end, members of the National Movement carried out a popular campaign under the leadership of the Special Education Committee established in 1934. In the summer of 1935, a group of activists met at the house of Mustafa Afilal, and after a long debate about educational dimensions, material resources, and other things, the group concluded by approving the establishment of a special secondary educational institution. The name of the institution remained suspended until the end of the year. After additional meetings, nationalist leader and Professor Abdelkhalek Torres, being impressed with the role played by the "free men" in the era of the Second Spanish Republic, said to his colleagues: most of the men of science, thought and liberation in Spain, graduated from Madrid's Instituto Libre. Therefore, I hope and suggest that you call our institute the Free Institute (Arabic: المعهد الحر). After this was approved, the Free Institute was established on November 5, 1935.[77]

The students of the Institute were among the first to demonstrate and protest against the Spanish administration. The year 1948, in which bloody events took place between the citizens demanding independence and the Spanish colonialism, in which a student of the institute was killed by colonial agents, was a milestone in its history. The Spanish administration began to take over the institute. All the staff were arrested and imprisoned in Ceuta. However, weeks later, historian Tuhami al-Wazzani, who was then the director of the elementary school, joined the institute and asked the college students to help teach the younger ones so that the institute would not stop teaching altogether. Since then, secondary education has ceased and has been limited to primary education up to this day.[77] Many graduates continued their higher education in Spain, Cairo, and Baghdad.

Other schools and institutions of higher education


Tétouan is home to l'Institut National des Beaux-Arts (National Institute of Fine Arts), the only national arts institution of higher education in Morocco. It was founded in 1945.[78] Its promoter and first director was the Spanish Orientalist painter Mariano Bertuchi [es].[79] The city also hosts the Ecole Nationale d'Architecture, a public architecture school.

Tétouan's public Abdelmalek Essaâdi University was founded in 1993. The 16th-century Moroccan sultan Abu Marwan Abd al-Malik I Saadi is the university's namesake. The university has a student body of 86,000, one of the largest in Morocco. The Faculty of Theology (Arabic : كلية أصول الدين) was established in 1963 and was an affiliate of the prestigious Al Quaraouiyine University in Fez until 2015, when it was annexed to Abdelmalek Essaâdi University.[80]

  • Artisan School
  • Puerto School
  • California School
  • Aya Al Madina
  • ITSN-Institut Technique des Sciences
  • School Hala Andalucia
  • Al-Qadi Ibn Al-Arabi

There are also some Spanish international schools operated by that country's Ministry of Education:

Foreign cultural centers


Several foreign cultural centers are located in Tétouan :

Economy and infrastructure

3rd-class carriage of the Ceuta-Tetuán Railway, circa 1930

The economy of the city is based mainly on tourism and commerce. Other sectors of income include fishing and agriculture. Tétouan's civil airport Sania Ramel Airport, which became an international airport that operates flights to western Europe, is operated by the Moroccan Airports Authority and is located 6 km (4 mi) to the east.

M'diq harbour - Fishing and leisure port at Tamuda Bay

The Ceuta-Tetuán railway line (es) was the first Spanish international railway line that would unite the cities of Ceuta and Tétouan. It was inaugurated on March 17, 1918, by Carlos de Borbón and Khalifa Mohammed Mehedi Uld Ben Ismael [es].[81] The line is no longer in use. Tétouan is linked to Tangier, Ksar el Kebir, Larache, Chefchaouen, Bab Sebta (border with Ceuta), and Oued Laou via modern national motorways. The 28 km Tetouan–Fnideq expressway was completed in 2005.

Road linking Tetouan to M'diq

The coastal area is a major tourist destination during the summer period. It stretches from Fnideq, a small city near Ceuta, to the beaches of the small village of El Jebha on the route to Al Hoceima. Several marinas and beach resorts are spread between different villages along the coast. The M'diq port is the main fishing port serving the city. M'diq has another port dedicated to leisure. Both have been expanded recently in order to improve tourist offerings and to increase the harbour's capacity. Boats up to 50 metres long with a depth of nearly five metres can be moored.[82]

Cultural tourism has also been developed during recent years. Many historical sites and monuments are found within and outside the old city (medina).[83]

During the 20th century, Tétouan had a few flourishing industries such as paper manufacturing, which was led by the Papelera de Tetuán company.[84] The company was later merged with its competitor Cellulose du Maroc, having its operations stopped in Tétouan and its headquarters transferred to Casablanca.[85]

Skoundo water distribution system


The historic center is equipped with a subterranean piping system for water distribution through its streets. In fact, until the early 1970s, drinking water supply in the old medina was mainly provided through this traditional network called "Skoundo" (El Abdellaoui, 1986).[86] It was developed around the 16th century in parallel with the construction of the first houses during its renewal by Andalusian refugees. It penetrates the ancient city from the far north to the far south. It starts at the top of Mount Dersa and extends underground under channels and pipes made of clay. Although it is not the only ancient water system in Morocco, others having been located in Fez and Chefchaouen, it remains the only one still operating. However, the bad state of the clay pipes combined with neglect and other technical issues makes the water undrinkable, although some restorations are underway.[87] Skoundo had a clear impact on various socio-economic charts of the city. The system did not only serve houses but also mosques, public toilets, hammams, tanneries, and public mural fountains found in each neighborhood in the old medina.[88]

Contraband controversies


Since a few decades, and because of the proximity of the city to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, many people have been relying on contraband activities. Residents of Tétouan do not need a visa to enter Ceuta. Before the 1990s, no passport was needed and a Moroccan ID card was sufficient. In recent years, the border has known many incidents such as stampedes.[89] Human rights groups have often criticized the situation in which women carry heavy loads of goods - giving rise to the epithet "Mule women"-[90] before cases of investigation were opened.[91][92] In 2018 Morocco suspended commercial customs with the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in to crack down on the smuggling of illegal products into Morocco from the two cities affecting the country’s economic growth. Moroccan customs officials previously  estimated the value of the products entering Morocco through the Ceuta border between MAD 6 billion and MAD 8 billion (between €550 million and €730 million) per year . Morocco’s government has long maintained that the situation needs  a “radical” solution to permanently put an end to contraband border crossings with Melilla and Ceuta.”[93]

In 1917, Tetouan saw the appearance of its first football clubs, "Sporting of Tetuán" and "el Hispano-Marroquí" ("The Spanish-Moroccan"). One year later, these two clubs, and a third one called "el Radio", merged and that gave the birth to the "Athletic Club Tetuán". The new club was established in 1922 by Basque Atlético Madrid fans who lived in Tétouan. In the early days, it was known as Athletic Club Tetuan—based on the Spanish spelling of the city. After the Spanish Civil War and according to General Franco's demands (banning non-Spanish names), it became known as Club Atlético Tetuan. This is why the team has always played in red and white stripes and blue shorts, just like their counterparts from Madrid they were supposed to emulate. Under the Spanish protectorate of Northern Morocco, Tetuán was a part of the Spanish Liga for 33 years until independence was achieved in 1956. The highlights of that era were their surprising win of the Spanish Segunda División (the southern group) in the 1950–51 season[94] and their promotion to the Primera Division of 1951–52. The club remains, to this day, the only African team ever to play in a top division in Europe.

Today, the city has one professional football club, Moghreb Athletic Tétouan, which competes in the Botola, the top-tier of Moroccan football. The team plays their home games at the Saniat Rmel stadium, the oldest football stadium in Africa. As of the 2018–19 season, the team will play at the new Tétouan Stadium, which will have a seating capacity of more than 41,000. Moghreb Athletic Tétouan won its first league title in the 2011–12 Botola League season, becoming the first Chamali club to ever win the league title. Today, MAT is considered one of the five biggest football clubs in Morocco along with Raja Casablanca, Wydad Casablanca, FAR Rabat, and Maghreb Fès. A new football stadium in the Mediterranean city of Tétouan is currently being built across 36 hectares north of the residential areas, along the new A6 highway. It will occupy former farmlands and become the central sports arena of the agglomeration, replacing the severely dated Stade Saniat Rmel. The stadium is meant to seat 60,000 spectators; original plans called for a capacity of 40,000 but this was increased to 60,000 in order to meet latest FIFA regulations. Construction on the Grand Stade De Tétouan, which was designed by Moroccan architect Nawfal Bakhat, began in 2015 and was initially scheduled for completion in 2018. The project has stalled a number of times, been mired in controversy regarding the authorship of its design plans,[95] and the completion date has been postponed as well. As of January 2020, it is still not finished. The Kingdom of Morocco has submitted a bid to FIFA to host the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in three different countries.[96]

Sights in and around Tétouan

Zerka natural spot in Mount Ghorghiz - Rif Mountains.
  • The medina (old town) of Tétouan is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.[97] The inner city is very characteristic and traditional. One can find many white houses there, especially low houses. Everywhere in the city there are people performing their craftsmanship, like weavers, jewellers, leather workers. Street sellers often try to sell carpets to tourists as well. Tétouan is part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and was named "City of Crafts and Folk Art" in 2017.[15]
  • The Tetouan Archaeological Museum is located in the city center a hundred meters away from the Royal Palace. The museum exhibits artifacts from different periods belonging to indigenous, Phoenician, Roman, Jewish, and Arab cultures. The museum was constructed in 1943.[98]
  • The Museum of Modern Art is located in front of Riad Al Ochak garden.
  • The Mechouar of the Royal Palace is situated just outside and by one of the entrances to the old medina. There is a public square in front of it.
  • Riad Al Ochak (literally meaning "Lovers' Garden"), officially known as Moulay Rachid Garden, is a public garden designed in the moorish style. It is located at the bottom of the hills on the road down to the Martil Valley.
  • The kasbah at the top of Mount Dersa, with the ruins of the former barracks of the Regulares, is located alongside a cemetery of indigenous martyrs.
  • Tétouan enjoys a large coastline that spans from the border with Ceuta to the road to Al Hoceima. It is usually very busy in the summer time and hosts many international clubs, hotels, golf resorts, and marinas such as Club Med, Sofitel, and the Ritz-Carlton located in the Tamuda Bay area between M'diq and Fnideq.[99] The nearest beach is the popular city of Martil. Other villages include Cabo Negro, Oued Lao, El Jebha.
  • Tétouan is surrounded by two mounts -Dersa and Ghorghiz. Several natural spots are available and hiking activities are popular.

Notable people


Twin towns


See also


Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Ouasti, Boussif (1996). "Tétouan de Delo" ou la "Fille de Grenade": vue par un voyageur français au seuil du XX siècle (in French). Association des Activtés Sociales et Culturelles de la Facultés des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de Tétouan.
  2. ^ "Tetouan "the white dove" by Danielle Higgins - USAC". blog.usac.edu. 2015-05-28. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  3. ^ a b "POPULATION LÉGALE DES RÉGIONS, PROVINCES, PRÉFECTURES, MUNICIPALITÉS, ARRONDISSEMENTS ET COMMUNES DU ROYAUME D'APRÈS LES RÉSULTATS DU RGPH 2014" (in Arabic and French). High Commission for Planning, Morocco. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b M. Tarradell, El poblamiento antiguo del Rio Martin, Tamuda, IV, 1957, p. 272
  5. ^ a b M. R. El Azifi, « L'habitat ancien de la vallée de Martil » in Revue de la Faculté des lettres de Tétouan, 1990, 4e année, n° 4, p. 65-81. (in Arabic)
  6. ^ a b Ali ibn-abi-Zar' (1326) - Rawd Al-Kirtas (Histoire des souverains du Maghreb et annales de la ville de Fès. Traduction française Auguste Beaumier. Editions La Porte, Rabat, 1999, p. 325)
  7. ^ a b Duran, Khalid (1992), "Andalusia's Nostalgia for Progress and Harmonious Heresy", Middle East Report 178, retrieved 2018-10-01 – via Middle East Research and Information Project
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  9. ^ Proyección histórica de España en sus tres culturas: Castilla y León, América y el mediterráneo. Historia e historia de América. Junta de Castilla y León. 1993. p. 387. ISBN 978-8478461905.
  10. ^ "Tetuán, la pequeña Jerusalén, con Jacobo Israel Garzón | Radio Sefarad". www.radiosefarad.com (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  11. ^ a b Bennaboud, M'Hammad (2014). "The Muslims and Jews of Tétouan". Qantara.de (Interview).
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  34. ^ Gaul, Anny (2019-11-27). "Bastila and the Archives of Unwritten Things". Maydan. Retrieved 2019-12-13. I was especially interested in Tetouani baqlawa, a pastry typically associated with the eastern Mediterranean, not the west. The baqlawa we sampled was shaped in a spiral, unlike the diamond-shaped version I was more familiar with from Levantine food. But its texture and flavors––thin buttered layers of crisp papery pastry that crunch around sweet fillings with honeyed nuts––were unmistakable. Instead of the pistachios common in eastern baqlawa, El Mofaddal's version was topped with toasted slivered almonds. Was baqlawa the vehicle that had introduced phyllo dough to Morocco?

    There is a strong argument for the Turkic origin of phyllo pastry, and the technique of shaping buttered layers of it around sweet and nut-based fillings was likely developed in the imperial kitchens of Istanbul.[4] So my next step was to find a likely trajectory that phyllo dough might have taken from Ottoman lands to the kitchens of northern Morocco.

    It so happened that one of Dr. Bejjit's colleagues, historian Idriss Bouhlila, had recently published a book about the migration of Algerians to Tetouan in the nineteenth/thirteenth century. His work explains how waves of Algerians migrated to Tetouan fleeing the violence of the 1830 French invasion. It includes a chapter that traces the influences of Ottoman Algerians on the city's cultural and social life. Turkish language and culture infused northern Morocco with new words, sartorial items, and consumption habits––including the custom of drinking coffee and a number of foods, especially sweets like baqlawa. While Bouhlila acknowledges that most Tetouanis consider bastila to be Andalusi, he suggests that the word itself is of Turkish origin and arrived with the Algerians."
    "Bouhlila's study corroborated the theory that the paper-thin ouarka used to make bastila, as well as the name of the dish itself, were introduced to Morocco by way of Tetouani cuisine sometime after 1830.
  35. ^ Idriss Bouhlila. الجزائريون في تطوان خلال القرن 13هـ/19م. pp. 128–129.
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  40. ^ المرأة التطوانية من المقاومة المسلحة إلى النضال السياسي من أجل الاستقلال (الجزء 2) [Tetouanic Women from Armed Resistance to the Political Struggle for Independence (Part 2)]. canaltetouan.com (in Arabic). 17 January 2014. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  41. ^ Paloma, Vanessa (2012-09-28), Abécassis, Frédéric; Aouad, Rita; Dirèche, Karima (eds.), "Judeo-Spanish in Morocco : Language, identity, separation or integration?", La bienvenue et l'adieu | 1 : Migrants juifs et musulmans au Maghreb (XVe-XXe siècle), Description du Maghreb, Centre Jacques-Berque, pp. 103–112, ISBN 9791092046083
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  43. ^ Norman A. Stilman (1979) The Jews of Arab Lands. A History and Source Book., 309;"On Saturday, the second of the above-mentioned month of Sha'ban, our Master al-Yazid--may God grant him victory--ordered the pillaging of the Mellah of Tétouan. They fell upon the Jews' women and took their virginity, and they did not leave a single one of them."
  44. ^ "BCmed". www.bcmediterranea.org. Archived from the original on 2019-10-16. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  45. ^ López Alvarez, Ana María (2003). La comunidad judía de Tetuán, 1881-1940 : onomástica y sociología en el libro de registro de circuncisiones del rabino Yiṣḥaq Bar Vid Al Haṣerfaty [The Jewish community of Tetouan, 1881-1940: onomastics and sociology in Rabbi Yiṣḥaq Bar Vid Al Haṣerfaty's record book on circumcisions]. Toledo, Spain: Museo Sefardi. p. 80. ISBN 978-8436936803. OCLC 55502651.
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  100. ^ Parkes, Lorna (2017). Lonely Planet Morocco. Lonely Planet. p. 111. ISBN 9781787010093. Nuestra Señora de las Victorias Church: This Roman Catholic church was built in 1926 and is still active. We can't think of another place in Morocco where church bells sound the hour.
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  102. ^ "Tetouan travel guide". insightguides.com. 20 January 2017. Nearby, off the Place Moulay el Mehdi, is the pretty Spanish Church of Bacturia, which still holds Roman Catholic masses every Sunday.
  103. ^ "Excursions from Tangier: Tetouan". tangerport. 20 January 2017. The Spanish influence on Tetouan is very much still alive today and nowhere is that clearer than is the city's only surviving church, Iglesia de Bacturia, Originally built in 1917, the church is still active today, catering to the city's scarce catholics and ringing the bells every hour. Daily mass is held at Moulay Slimane in 7pm and on Sundays at 11am.