Tetouan: A guide to Tetouan, Morocco

If you’re a first time visitor to Morocco, coming from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, Tetouan will be your first experience of a Moroccan city with its overcrowded souks and noisy medina streets.

Approaching Tetouan from a distance, it looks strikingly beautiful. It is poised atop the slope of a narrow valley, against a background of dark mass rock and surrounded by majestic mountains in the south and west.

The name Tetouan – pronounced Tet-ta-wan – means “Open your eyes” in the Berber language. This is probably a reference to the hasty building of the town by Muslim and Andalusian refugees from Spain. The Moorish imprint of Sevilla, Cordoba and other Andalusian towns is so evident here: the architecture is quite unique and sophisticated unlike any other Moroccan Medina. The houses have tiled lintels and wrought iron balconies and are full of extravagant detail.

Tetouan is also famous for its active souks. Small squares are devoted to local foods and crafts, and there is also a wide smattering of local pottery stalls. The souks are highly characteristics for selling local foutahs and babouches – two traditional items worn by the Berbers of the Rif that are instantly associated with Morocco.