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Heritage Sites

Medina of Tetouan – Explore the Past at this UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Medina of Tetouan is the capital of Tangier-Tetouan, a region of Morocco found in the northern parts of the country in the fertile Martil Valley. Tetouan (Tetuan, Tettawan, Tettawen) is also the cultural centre of the region and has the only open port on the Mediterranean Sea.

The inhabitants of the medina officially speak Arabic, but use a number of languages in their everyday lives. These languages include Berber-Tamazight, Moroccan Darija-Arabic, Spanish and French. The main religion practiced in Tetouan is Islam, but religious denominations like Jews and Christians are supported by minority groups.

Tetouan is the main agricultural district in Morocco producing citrus fruit, grain and livestock. The Tetouan medina also manufactures soap, flour products, tobacco products, building materials and textiles. There are a number of other industries in the city, including cabinet making, fish canning and printing.

The medina of Tetouan is one of the smallest medinas in Morocco and is one of the few cities that have been relatively untouched by the outside world over the centuries. There are over 321, 000 inhabitants currently living in the medina. Tetouan has been well preserved and is considered one of the best examples of historical towns from the 8th century. The original sections of the medina of Tetouan now form part of UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage List’.

Tetouan is also recognized for having played an important role in the Islamic community from the 8th century onwards. During that time period the Tetouan medina was used as the main point of contact between Andalusia (a region of Spain) and Morocco. Tetouan was later taken over by Andalusian refugees who had been removed from their home country. They were forced to take refuge in the medina, which was ruled by Spain at that stage.

The refugee’s rebuilt Tetouan, leaving evidence of their influence on the architecture and the art work produced by the local people even today. The houses are low and are characteristically white in color. As you walk around the streets you will notice the local people weaving, working on leather and creating jewelry. The medina of Tetouan is a wonderful example of the Andalusian culture incorporating a lot of the features that would be expected from such a culture.

Other attractions to look out for in the Medina of Tetouan include the royal palace, the public square, a number of mosques and the Kasbah (fortresses). Tetouan is a wonderful and lively city to visit with much to offer to the traveler passing through.