|• Mayor||Mohamed Idamar|
|Highest elevation||205 m (673 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||2 m (7 ft)|
|• Rank||11th in Morocco|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|Website||The official web site|
|Official name||Medina of Tétouan (formerly known as Titawin)|
|Criteria||ii, iv, v|
|Designated||1997 (21st session)|
Tétouan (Arabic: تطوان, Berber languages: ⵜⵉⵟⵟⴰⵡⵉⵏ, romanized: Tiṭṭawin, Spanish: Tetuán), nicknamed the White Dove (Arabic: الحمامة البيضاء), is a city located 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 km (40 mi) E.S.E. of Tangier. In the 2014 Moroccan census the city recorded a population of 380,787 inhabitants. It is part of the administrative division Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima.
The city has witnessed many development cycles spanning over more than 2000 years. The first settlements discovered a few miles outside of the modern city limits belonged to Mauretanian Berbers 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.
In late 13th century, the Berber 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. Around early 15th century the Castilians destroyed in retaliation for piracy.
The modern history of the city starts around late 15th century. It was re-built and fortified by Ali al-Mandri who emigrated from the Andalusian 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 during the Spanish Reconquista of 1492. Thousands of Muslims and Jews from Andalusia settled in the north of Morocco in general and on the ruins of the city of Tétouan. The city has known 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 labelled Granada's daughter and some families still keep keys belonging to their old homes in Granada. It is also nicknamed "Pequeña Jerusalén" (Little Jerusalem) by Sephardi Jews. The vast majority of the population are Muslims and small Christian and Jewish communities also exist 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 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.
Tétouan is a renowned multicultural center. The medina of Tétouan is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997. It has also been part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the area of Crafts and Folk Art since 2017.
The Berber name means literally "the eyes" and figuratively "the water springs". Before its foundation in the late 13th century, small fortifications existed here with the name Tittawin. Its name is first mentioned in 9th century Arabic chronicles, after the death of Idris II. The official name of the Marinid city was 'Afrag' ('(royal) tent' in Berber). Unofficial documents kept referring to it as Tétouan.
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 an eye in their language.
A few miles outside of the city limits lies the ancient town of Tamuda. Early settlements at the outskirts of the actual city by Mauretanian Berbers date back to the 3rd century BC. Artifacts from both the Phoenician and the Roman era have been found in the site of Tamuda. It became a Roman colony under Emperor Augustus.
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. 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 (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.
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 reared the walls and then filled the enclosure with houses. These Andalusians came into conflict with the Berber 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 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.
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 the piracy in the region. Corsairs considered it as a form of retaliation against the Spanish Reconquista that led to the loss of their homes back in al-Andalus 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. Their collaborators included English and Dutch renegades who were mostly Protestants although a few had converted to Islam.
While the harbor served as a port from where piracy missions were launched, captives were taken to dungeons. There were underground prisoner 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. These subterranean installations were rediscovered in early 20th century. A chapel of a size of 90 square meters and a few altars were also uncovered. 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.
Miguel De Cervantes, himself a captive in Algiers, Algeria between 1575–80, refers to Mazmorras in El juez de los divorcios (The Divorce Judge) where the protagonist compares his marriage to "captivity in Tetouan’s caves." He also did 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 incarcerated who told him about the hardness of the dungeons of Tétouan. 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. 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 as a reprisal.
The underground prison was explored in 1922 by Cesar Luis de Montalban based on a report by archeologist Manuel Gómez-Moreno Martínez. 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 was made although, recently, some researchers and civil associations are calling for the authorities to extend exploration and restoration before opening it to the public.
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 Ahmad al-Riffi, the Alaouite governor of Tangier and leader of the Berber army Jaysh al-Rifi that had conquered Tangier from the British. Al-Riffi ushered in a period of stability in Tétouan, building many of Tétouan's landmarks such as the Meshwar palace and the Pasha mosque, the oldest still 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 media. They have survived despite the changes that occurred through the expansions known to the city during multiple periods.
In 1844, Morocco lost its 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 1856 treaties with the British as a sign of weakness. Spurred by a national passion for African conquest, the Spaniards declared war on Morocco in 1859 after a conflict over the borders of the 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, the Spanish evacuated on 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.
Tétouan was one of the most active moroccan cities in resisting colonialism. The nationalist movement in Tétouan was led by the charismatic leader Abdelkhalek Torres and other personalities such as Abdessalam Bennuna and historian Mohammed Daoud. The movement was part of the pan-Arab nationalist movements. The movement 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 permit by the French protectorate but then went to Tangier, then having international status under foreign colonial powers, and from there to Tétouan where he met the group. Many of the members later joined the National Party for Istiqlal. Others joined some other nationalist parties and many members were women.
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.
By 1860, there were a total of 16 synagogues in Tétouan although some accounts talk about 18. Following the exodus of Jews from Morocco after 1948, there are very few Jews left in Tétouan. 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.
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). 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 late King Hassan II, a revolt spread into several cities for several days due to price hikes concerning basic goods following the implementation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Structural adjustment programme before it was thwarted by a military intervention. Twenty people were killed in Tétouan and many others were arrested and received heavy sentences.
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. 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 but Berber, Jewish, and colonial Spanish influences are present too. The city has produced many scholars in different disciplines throughout centuries. Notable spiritual leaders include Sufi saint Ahmad ibn Ajiba and Jewish Rabbi Yosef Maimon.
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 tile-work for which Tetuan is known may be seen on floors, pillars and dados. The city has seven gates which were closed at night up until early 20th century. Many Sufi Zawiyas are scattered inside the walled old city.
Traditional craftsmanship are 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 cape and skirt by Jebala women in rural areas.
In addition to an archaeological and traditional, and modern art museums, and an archival library, Tétouan hosts a school of music and many artisan schools. Different music genres of local or regional origins can be found in Tétouan. Traditional Andalusian classical music is the most popular and folk signers such as Abdessadeq Cheqara are widely known in Morocco. Other popular local genres like Taktoka Jabaliya also exist and are usually played in weddings.
Tétouan hosts many international festivals such as the International Mediterranean Film Festival, The International Oud and Women's Voice (أصوات نسائية) Festival.
The city has its own dialect, a particular citadin variant of non-Hilalian Arabic which is distinct from Jeblia. 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. 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.
The city is situated about 60 km east of the city of Tangier and 40 km south of 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.
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|
|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|
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 the long debate about the 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 the approval, the Free Institute was established on November 5, 1935.
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 the history of the Institute. The Spanish administration began to confiscate 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. Many graduates continued their higher education in Spain, Cairo and Baghdad.
Tétouan is home for l'Institut National des Beaux-Arts (National Institute of Fine Art), the only national arts institution of higher education in Morocco. It was founded in 1945. Its promoter and first director was the Spanish Orientalist painter Mariano Bertuchi. The city hosts also Ecole Nationale d'Architecture, which is one of the public architecture schools in the country.
Tétouan's public Abdelmalek Essaâdi University was founded in 1993. 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.
There are also some Spanish international schools operated by that country's Ministry of Education:
Several foreign cultural centers are located in Tétouan :
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 few flights to western europe, is operated by the Moroccan Airports Authority and is located 6 km (4 mi) to the east.
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 Jalifa Mohammed Mehedi Uld Ben Ismael. The line is no longer in use. Tétouan is linked to Tangier, Larache, Chefchaouen, Bab Sebta (border with Ceuta) and Al Hoceima via modern national motorways. The 28 km Tetouan–Fnideq expressway was completed in 2005.
The costal 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 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.
Cultural tourism has also been developed during recent years. Many historical sites and monuments are found within and outside the old city (medina).
During the 20th century, Tétouan had a few flourishing industries such as paper manufacturing which was led by the Papelera de Tetuán company. The company was later merged with its competitor Cellulose du Maroc having its operations stopped in Tétouan and its headquarters transferred to Casablanca.
The historic center is equipped with an ingenious 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). 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 were found in Fez and Chefchaouen, it remains the only one still operating. However, the bad state of the clay pipes added to neglect and other technical issues makes the water undrinkable although some restorations are underway. 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.
Since a few decades, and because of the proximity of the city to the Spanish enclave Ceuta, many people have been relying on contraband activities. Residents of Tétouan do not need a Visa permit to enter Ceuta. Before 1990s, no passport was needed and a Moroccan ID card was sufficient. In recent years the border has known many incidents such as stampedes or in some occasions because of the treatment by both Moroccan and Spanish border patrols. Human rights groups have often criticized the situation in which women carry heavy loads of goods - which gave them the epithet of "Mule women"- before cases of investigation were opened.
In 1917, Tetouan saw the appearance of its first clubs of football, "Sporting of Tetuán" and "el Hispano-Marroquí" ("The Spanish-Moroccan"). One year later these two club, 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. but after the Spanish Civil War and according to General Franco's demands (banning non-Spanish names) as Club Atlético Tetuan. That is why the team has always played in red and white stripes and blue shorts, just like the big brothers from Madrid they were supposed to emulate. Under Spanish Protectorate of Northern Morocco, Tetuán were a part of Spanish Liga for 33 years until independence was achieved in 1956. The highlight of that era was their surprising win of Spanish Segunda División (the southern group) in the 1950–51 season. and promotion to the Primera Division of 1951–52, and the club remain, to this very 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 sitting capacity of more than 41,000. Moghreb Athletic Tétouan has 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. 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.
Souk in Tétouan (popular market)
Ruins of Alcazaba de los Adives nearby the former barracks de Regulares
Corniche of Martil
Smir Dam near M'diq
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