It’s Monday and that means it’s market day in Tetouan. Stalls cover the footpaths and shoppers jostle with motorbikes on the streets. It starts in the medina – the narrow labyrinth of alleyways – and flows out through the gates of the ancient wall to the newer parts of the city.
This medina is not the largest in Morocco – in fact, it’s pretty much the smallest. But it’s considered to be one of the most intact and authentic.
Tetouan is located on the northern coast of Morocco and was of key importance for the relationship with Andalusia from as early as the 8th century. The influences of this contact with Spain can be seen in some of the design and art here.
Very little has changed inside the medina’s walls over the centuries – in terms of the architecture, that is. On a market day like this, I wonder how much has changed culturally too.
This is how I think it would have been once upon a time: the fishmongers thrusting their scaly wares in your face, pens of live chickens waiting to be chosen for tonight’s dinner, bags of spices almost overflowing, piles of vegetables on sheets, and the stalls so full of odds and ends that you don’t even know where to start.
If you’re interested in discovering more about the local flavours, there’s a good local food tour of Tetouan.
Tetouan is built on a steep slope rising out of a valley that has mountains mirroring it on the other side. The market and the permanent shops all seem to be in the narrow streets at the bottom.
When I try to take the stairs further up, I get hopelessly lost. The winding paths constantly lead to just dead ends.
There must be some way to get between the alleyways without going back down to the bottom and starting up another… but it’s invisible to me.
Still, the upper areas of Tetouan’s medina are just full of houses. They’re interesting to look at, especially considering the significance of their architecture. But the real action is happening back amongst the jostling crowds and insistent shouts of the vendors in the market.
You can actually do a quick trip to Tetouan on the way to Chefchaouen with this tour from Tangier.
I’ll leave you with a few more photos of a busy Monday market day in Tetouan in Morocco.
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN TETOUAN
Although you will find a bigger range of accommodation in nearby Tangiers, there are some lovely options in Tetouan.
The cheapest hostel in town is usually Darna Hostel – and luckily it is also the best.
For great value right in the medina, I recommend Riad Las Mil y una Noches.
A more upscale riad in the medina, El Reducto has an incredible rooftop terrace.
And, while you won’t find five stars in Tetouan, Hotel Chams is a decent luxury hotel.
5 thoughts on “A Moroccan Monday market”
Hi Michael, great post! I was in Tetouan a year ago and really liked it. Nice medina, market and very friendly people – a good change, compared to Marrakech.
Yeah, it’s much more laidback, isn’t it? The big medinas in Marrakech and Fez are a lot of fun but it’s nice to see one that’s small and local. Gives you a good constrast.
hello micheal !!
i came across the web and i found your article, i’m a social media manager for some travel agencies, nice to meet you here.
I live in Barcelona but i’m very proud to be from Tetouan, yeah man, my lovely small city , thank you so much for this article, i love it.
Do you accept a guest blogger ??
Hi Yassine. Tetouan was a lovely place – how cool that you grew up there. Did you get lost running up and down the little alleyways in the medina? 🙂
Unfortunately I don’t have guest posts on my site but stay in contact.
Nice post about Tetouan. I’ve been watching The Time In Between / El Tiempo Entre Costuras on Netflix and the series takes place in Madrid, Morocco and Portugal from Spanish civil war through WW2 – really well done. The Spanish seamstress lives in Tetouan during the program and I wanted to find out more so I came across your page. The program is in Spanish (I teach French & Spanish here in NY) but it has English subtitles. I think you’ll find it fascinating since you write about travel.
I hope you are enjoying the holidays!
Here’s a little about the program and a You Tube clip:
Sira Quiroga is a young Spanish dressmaker engaged to a solid suitor when a suave typewriter salesman upends her life. Spain is being upended by a civil war and the new regime’s growing alliances with Nazi Germany. Sira, smart, gutsy and resourceful with a Scarlett O’Hara-like ability to whip up designer duds on a moment’s notice, Sira has spunk. Sira gains and loses a small fortune, is dumped by her cad of a lover in Morocco, runs guns to get the cash to start her life anew and becomes couturier to the Nazi wives stationed in Madrid. Urged on by her friend, the real-life British spy Rosalinda Fox, Sira, too, aids the British cause. Written by Anonymous