High in the mountains, Tetouan transports you a world away. Take a few days to explore this creative hub and tap into its multi-cultural heritage. Booming with traditional handicrafts and local art, you’re sure to leave inspired.
With its whitewashed Spanish style homes and buildings perched high on a slope that soars up the foothills of the Rif Mountains, it’s no wonder that Tetouan has acquired the nickname “White Dove”. The town is known for its rich, artistic, and multi-cultural heritage while also embracing and supporting contemporary arts. It’s the perfect place to unwind and explore for a few days as it’s just a 90 minutes drive from Tangier and two hours from Chefchaouen.
Largely influenced by Spanish culture (it was once the capital during the Spanish Protectorate) you will see the Andalusian influences in the arts, architecture, and cuisine of Tetouan. Close to the sea, you can easily reach many Mediterranean beaches in under 20 minutes by car. Spend a few days here to experience and explore a genuine Moroccan town bursting with creativity and history.
A fascinating collection of prehistoric and pre-Islamic era artifacts collected from across Northern Morocco takes you back through time and provides a good overview of the region’s history. The museum garden also showcases mosaics from the ancient Roman cities of Lixus and Volubilis located just a few hours away. There is also a spectacular library that boasts a collection of over 60,000 books so you can truly dig into Tetouan’s past, learn more about its cultural heritage and the culture of Morocco.
Dar Sanaa School of Arts and Crafts
This school is dedicated to the traditional arts and crafts of Morocco and is one of only two fine arts schools in the entire country. Located in the medina near the gate, Bab el-Okla, you can visit this creative atmosphere and watch aspiring artists in their studios practice making zellige mosaics, embroidery works, wood paintings, leather, and woodworks plus marquetry from skilled artisans. You can purchase a unique hand-crafted item as a souvenir on the premises or in souks around the medina.
Igelsia de Bacturia
This Roman Catholic church is the last surviving church in Tetouan. Built in 1926, this stunning, golden orange painted sanctuary still operates today holding regular services. You can attend a mass or quietly peek inside to marvel at the ornately decorated interior.
Located inside the 19th-century fortress of Sultan Moulay Abderrahman, this interesting collection displays traditional, cultural artifacts and Tetouani wedding ritual objects including bridal wear and linens. You can also discover interesting facts about Morocco culture.
The ancient stone wall that houses one of Morocco’s smallest medinas remains virtually untouched by outside influences. With its seven gates, you won’t need to worry about losing your way as you wander along cobblestone streets bursting with colors and the Andalusian spirit reflected in its building’s architecture.
Shop for ceramics, textiles, jewelry, and many other hand-crafted goods. You can also visit the tanneries where you’ll likely find beautifully hand-crafted leather goods that are reasonably priced compared to the big cities. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, this cultural treasure offers an authentic experience of the city’s historic past.
Tetouan Center of Modern Art
This modern art museum is located inside the old train station and has five rooms that exhibit realistic and abstract artworks including contemporary sculptures and paintings by Moroccan artists. The building’s architecture is a work of art on its own with its beautiful decorative archways and green tiled exterior.
This magnificent cultural space reflects the history of Tetouan. Built in the 1920s by El Oddi, it was later bought and restored by his grandson, Jalal el Oddi with the intention of preserving his family’s heritage and that of the city. The collection includes many cultural artifacts: photographs, postcards, paintings, posters, magazines, stamps, and books.
All of its seven rooms are richly decorated with stained glass, zellige tiles accentuated by black and white checkered floors.
Green Olive Arts
This collaborative art space offers cultural and creative experiences and is located in the heart of the city. They offer an amazing artist residency opportunity that is open to all international artists, hands-on artisan workshops (1-5 days), and informative, guided tours of the Dar Sanaa arts school including studio visits so you can learn more about Moroccan arts and crafts first hand.
The team at Green Olive also organizes lectures and cultural art-related talks to nurture the creative spirit.
Looking for a unique, hand-crafted souvenir to remember your journey through Tetouan, head to Ensemble Artisanale where you can browse beautiful goods and see artisans at work. Located just across the street from the Modern Art Museum, this cooperative is sponsored by the Moroccan government so all items are sold at a fixed price and are non-negotiable to help support the cultural arts and artisans. From carpet weavers to leatherworkers, woodworkers, and jewelry makers you will find products of remarkable quality.
Excursions outside Tetouan
Explore the ancient Roman ruins just 6km outside of Tetouan. Dating back to the 3rd century B.C. this archaeological site was originally an Amazigh/Berber settlement, then a Phoenician trading post, and was later destroyed by the Romans who rebuilt and also established a military camp here. You can wander around and try to imagine what the past civilizations might have looked like. Excavations over the years have uncovered Phoenician and Roman artifacts.
Hike up through the forest to experience spectacular views of Tetouan from a distance. Just a short distance from Tetouan and you will be shrouded in nature, freshwater springs, and breathing clean mountain air. There is also a café near the entrance of the trail so you can kick back with some delicious, mint tea and relax in the natural surroundings.
Tamuda Bay and Martil Beach
How does a day at the beach sound? The sea is just a short distance from Tetouan so you can stroll the seashore at sunset or take a camel tour for a truly authentic Moroccan experience. Tamuda Bay attracts many locals and tourists with its golden, sandy beaches and resort hotels. Another option is Martil Beach which is less touristic and offers a tranquil getaway where you can sunbathe on its long, white sandy stretch of sand.
Tetouan is truly a gem nestled between the mountains and the sea. Many Morocco package tours include this charming town in their itinerary so you won’t miss out. Delve into Tetouan’s diverse and craft-oriented past and be inspired by its creative and innovative present.