Khalifa Palace – Fine Example of Hispano-Moorish Architecture

Tetouan is a beautiful Moroccan city and the only open port on the Mediterranean Sea. It is set against a backdrop of mountains to the west and south. Tetouan boasts seven superbly sculpted gateways that lead through the ramparts into the medina: a maze of intricate alleys, twisting around the houses and stores. There are many interesting sights, sounds and aromas to experience in the medina of Tetouan.

Some of the finest examples of Hispano-Moorish architecture are found in Tetouan. Hispano-Moorish is an architectural style based upon 8th to 15th century Moorish buildings in the Iberian Peninsula. Outstanding examples of this style of architecture are the Khalifa Palace and The Three Graces: a Roman mosaic in the Archaeological Museum. The Khalifa Palace is found just outside one of the gateways leading into the medina. Visitors to the Tetouan medina should take some time to explore this attraction.

The Khalifa Palace was built in the 17th century during the reign of Moulay Ismael, who was a member of the Alaouite Dynasty, originating in the Shorfa of Tafilalet. This dynasty emerged in the mid-15th century but first wielded authority over Morocco in 1666. The founder and spiritual leader of the Alaouites was Moulay Ali Cherif. He, along with his successors, carried out economic and military strategies in an effort to re-unite the divided country. In 1672 Moulay Ismael ascended to the throne. Building upon the achievements of his predecessors, Moulay Ismael wielded absolute power. He built and named Meknès as the capital of the Kingdom. He overthrew local political and religious authorities and founded the Cherifian Empire. His rulership extended as far as Senegal and he set about establishing a network of fortresses as far as Senegal. Moulay Ismael then spent much time and energy in establishing diplomatic relations with foreign powers, notably during the reigns of James II of England and Louis XIV of France.

The Khalifa Palace was renovated and restored in 1948. When Morocco was a protectorate, the Khalifa Palace was used as the residence of his Majesty’s representative. Today it is a popular tourist attraction that you may wish to visit.

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