From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

City and municipality
Tetouan Jbel Bo3nan.jpg
Jardines de Cagigas 04.jpg
Tetuan vista desde un tejado.JPG
Tetouan Morocco © 01.jpg
Traditional painting.jpg
Tétouan  Tetuán is located in Morocco
Tétouan  Tetuán
Location of Tétouan within Morocco
Coordinates: 35°34′N 5°22′W / 35.567°N 5.367°W / 35.567; -5.367Coordinates: 35°34′N 5°22′W / 35.567°N 5.367°W / 35.567; -5.367
Country Flag of Morocco.svg Morocco
Region Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima
Province Tétouan
 • Mayor Mohamed Idamar
Highest elevation 205 m (673 ft)
Lowest elevation 2 m (7 ft)
Population (2014)[1]
 • Total 380,787
 • Rank 11th in Morocco
 • Religions Islam
Racial makeup
 • Jebala 60%
 • Riffians/Ghomara 35%
 • Europe 1.0%
 • Others 4%
Time zone UTC+0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+1 (GMT)
Postal Code 93000
Website The official web site
Official name Medina of Tétouan (formerly known as Titawin)
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv, v
Designated 1997 (21st session)
Reference no. 837
State Party  Morocco
Region Arab States

Tétouan (Arabic: تطوان‎, Berber languages: ⵜⵉⵟⵟⴰⵡⵉⵏ, French: Tétouan, Spanish: Tetuán) is a city in northern Morocco. The Berber name means literally "the eyes" and figuratively "the water springs". Tétouan is one of the two major ports of Morocco on the Mediterranean Sea. It lies a few miles south of the Strait of Gibraltar, and about 60 km (40 mi) E.S.E. of Tangier. In the 2014 Moroccan census the city recorded a population of 380,787 inhabitants.[1] Tétouan's civil airport Sania Ramel Airport is located 6 km (4 mi) to the east.

In 1913 Tétouan became the capital of the Spanish protectorate of Morocco, which was governed by the Jalifa (Moroccan prince, serving as Viceroy for the Sultan), and the Spanish "Alto Comisario" accredited to him. It remained such a capital until 1956, when Morocco regained its full independence. The medina (old town) of Tétouan is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Arabic is the official language, the city has its own dialect,[2][3] a particular citadin variant of non-Hilalian Arabic which is distinct from Jebli Arabic.[4][5] However, Jebli Arabic is predominant since people from the neighboring rural areas settled in the city during the 20th century rural flights.[6] The use of Spanish and French is still widespread especially by the businessmen and intellectual elites due to past colonial ties and geographic location close to Europe. The majority religion is Islam; small Christian and Jewish communities also exist.


Riad Al Ochak (literally The Lovers' Garden) - a replica of the gardens of Granada, Spain

The city is situated about 60 km east of the city of Tangier and 40 km south of the Spanish exclave of Ceuta (Sebta) and the Strait of Gibraltar. It is in the far north of the Rif Mountains. To the south and west of the city there are mountains. Tetuan is situated in the middle of a belt of orchards that contain orange, almond, pomegranate 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, and across the valley are the hills which form the northern limit of the still more impenetrable Rif.

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 the ceilings are often exquisitely carved and painted in Hispano-Moresque designs, such as are found in the Alhambra of Granada, and the tile-work for which Tetuan is known may be seen on floors, pillars and dados. The traditional industries are tilework, inlaying with silver wire, and the manufacture of thick-soled yellow slippers, much-esteemed flintlocks, and artistic towels used as cape and skirt by Arabic girls in rural areas. The Jews lived in a mellah, separated from the rest of the town by gates which were closed at night. The harbour of Tetuan was obstructed by a bar, over which only small vessels can pass, and the roadstead, sheltered to the north, Northwest and south, is exposed to the east, and is at times unsafe in consequence of the strong Levanter.


Medina and the mosque of Tetouan.

A few miles outside of the city limits lies the ancient town of Tamuda. Artifacts from both the Roman and the Phoenician era have been found in the site of Tamuda.[7][8]

Before its foundation in the late 13th century, small fortifications existed here with the name Tittawin.[9] Its name is first mentioned in 9th century Arabic chronicles, after the death of Idris II.[10]

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 king Abu Thabit Amir.[11] 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 family. The official name of the Marinid city was 'Afrag' ('(royal) tent' in Berber). Unofficial documents kept referring to it as Tétouan. Around 1400 it was destroyed by the Castilians, because pirates used it for their attacks. 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 first reared the walls and then filled the enclosure with houses. These Andalusians came into conflict with the Beni Hozmar tribe, after which they asked the Wattasid sultan for protection. In response, he sent 80 soldiers (according to one chronicle, 40 natives of Fes 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 city was governed by the Andalusian Abu Hassan al-Mandari and the city remained autonomous from the Saadi sultans, with the Saadis constantly trying to assert their power. In the 17th century the city was governed by the wealthy al-Naksis family.

In the late 17th century the city was taken by the Alaouite sultan Moulay Ismail, who encountered fierce resistance there. Tétouan remained fragile, until it was taken by Ahmad al-Riffi, the Alaouite governor of Tangiers and leader of the Berber Riffian tribes that had conquered Tangiers from the British. This al-Riffi ushered in a period of stability in Tétouan, building many of Tétouan's landmarks (for instance the Meshwar palace and the Basha mosque, the oldest still standing mosque in Tétouan). After his death, the city again rebelled and was only nominally controlled by the central government.

In 1790 a pogrom happened, started by Sultan Yazid. The mellah was pillaged and many women raped.[12]

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)

It had a reputation for piracy at various times in its history, and in 1829, the Austrians punitively bombarded the city due to Moroccan piracy.[13] It was taken on 4 February 1860 by the Spaniards under General The 1st Conde de Lucena (a descendant of an old Irish royal family, the O'Donnells of Tyrconnell), who was made hereditary Duque de Tetuán, and later served as Prime Minister of Spain. However, the Spanish evacuated on 2 May 1862.

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

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

Tétouan has also been home to an important 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. Some of them emigrated later to Oran (in Algeria), to South America and much later to Israel, Spain, France and Canada. Following the exodus of Jews from Arab countries after 1948, there are very few Jews left in Tétouan.[citation needed]


Tétouan has one public university. Abdelmalek Esaâdi University, founded in 1993, is the oldest institution of higher education in the city. The great Moroccan King Abdelmalek I Saadi is the university's namesake. The university has a student body of 86,000, one of the largest in Morocco.

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


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 sitting capacity of more than 41,000. Moghreb Athletic Tétouan has won its first league title in the 20011–12 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. The new football stadium in Mediterranean city of Tetouan will be built across 36 hectares north of the residential areas, along newly built A6 highway. It will occupy former farmlands and become the central sports arena of the agglomeration, replacing severely dated Stade Saniat Rmel. The Grand Shade De Tetouan is currently under construction it is scheduled to be open by late 2018.


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

Climate data for Tétouan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.0
Average high °C (°F) 16.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 13.3
Average low °C (°F) 9.7
Record low °C (°F) 1.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 118
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 11 11 11 5 6 5 0 2 5 8 13 13 90
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: Deutscher Wetterdienst[14]

Sights in and around Tétouan[edit]

  • The medina (old town) of Tétouan is on the World Heritage List of the UNESCO.[15] 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.
  • The royal palace in Tétouan is situated just outside and by one of the entrances to the medina. There is a public square in front of it.
  • Kasbah
  • Mosques

Twin towns[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ L. Messaoudi, Cahiers de Sociolinguistique n°6 (2001), Variations linguistiques: images urbaines et sociales, pp.87-98
  3. ^ S. Levy, EDNA n°1 (1996), Reperes pour une histoire linguistique du Maroc, pp.127-137
  4. ^ Dominique Caubet, Questionnaire de dialectologie du Maghreb Archived 2009-03-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ (in French) Jordi Aguadé, Patrice Cressier, Ángeles Vicente : Peuplement et arabisation au Maghreb occidental, Casa de Velázquez, 1998 (ISBN 8486839858)[1]
  6. ^ (in French) M. Lazaar, Migration internationale et croissance des villes du Nord-Ouest marocain: Les cas de Tétouan et de Tanger (Maroc), in Urbanisation du monde arabe, no.28 (1995), pp.145-150 (ISSN 0760-3819)
  7. ^ M. Tarradell, El poblamiento antiguo del Rio Martin, Tamuda, IV, 1957, p. 272
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Tittawin, Halima Ferhat, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. X, ed. P.J. Bearman, T. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs, (Brill, 2000), 549.
  10. ^ Tittawin, Halima Ferhat, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. X, 549.
  11. ^ 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, 325 p.
  12. ^ 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."
  13. ^ "'Abd ar-Rasham". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, Illinois: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2010. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  14. ^ "Klimatafel von Tetuan (Tétouan) / Marokko" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961-1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved August 15, 2017. 
  15. ^ Medina of Tétouan - unesco.org

External links[edit]

Media related to Tétouan at Wikimedia Commons