Asilah, the Moroccan treasure in the north

Asilah, also known as Azila, or Assilah, is a Moroccan city on the north Atlantic coast, located 46 kilometers south of Tangier and 110 kilometers north of Ceuta. The ancient town rests on a plain close to a hill that borders the sea. It is next to the new city, resting behind its majestic walls, opposing the water for five centuries. Every Thursday morning, a vibrant and colorful souk is set up at the foot of the other wall: men and women from the countryside, dressed in their best and wearing wide hats, display the products of their region, stacked high in huge baskets and wicker baskets.


Asilah city

Asilah is currently known for its fine sand beaches, well-kept and attractive Medina, and international festivals in the summer, revitalizing the city’s streets and attracting artists, journalists, intellectuals, and politicians worldwide.

Tourism is the city’s primary source of revenue, with a long promenade stretching to the north. Many well-known seafood eateries around the port lead to the beach north of Asilah. Foreigners own or rent out many of the homes in Medina.

History of Asilah

History of Asilah

Asilah, like other Moroccan cities on the Atlantic coast, has a tumultuous history of conquests and vicissitudes. Jill was an ancient Punic, Roman, and Phoenician city that became an independent emirate in the 9th century before being conquered by the Umayyad, Almohad, and Almoravid empires. It was a Portuguese square destroyed at the end of the 15th century. It was here that the old town and its Medina were built (taking advantage of an earlier layout from the Almoravid era, according to some sources).

There existed a non-aggression pact between Spain and Portugal at the time, with Spain free to conquer the Mediterranean coast and Portugal free to conquer the Atlantic. Later, the Spanish briefly occupied it in the late 17th century. Still, the Saad dynasty rapidly retook it at the end of the 16th century. Asilah was retaken by Muley Ismail in 1691. Following the Spanish expulsion, the Medina was reconstructed and is now what we know it to be.

What to see on a trip to Asilah

Asilah’s Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s a maze of alleys lined with white houses. The numerous painted walls harken back to the 1970s and bear evidence of the origins of a music festival now held every August. Asilah boasts the cleanest and most well-kept Medina in Morocco; it is distinguished by the brightness of its sky, the continual sound of the sea in its streets, and the saline of its environment, which evokes the coastal cities of Cádiz, which are popular tourist destinations. Its neo-Arab structures are in immaculate condition, fully restored, and rehabilitated.

white houses

white houses in asilah

The houses are white, with paintings by visiting artists on the walls. Some are restored in a lovely Andalusian style incorporating white and indigo blue. The modest, spotless mosques of Asilah are white (a relaxing walk through the Medina is truly unique). Many medinas in Morocco only have souvenir shops catering to tourists from outside the country.

asilah doors

Alfonso V of Portugal erected the walls that enclosed the ancient city in the 15th century. The Medina’s three entrance doors, which are referred to as:

• Bab Homar or Puerta Tierra, with Portuguese flags that have mostly been obliterated by time.

• Bab Kasbah is a fortified fortress surrounded by gardens and in front of a Muslim cemetery in the northern part of the city.

• Bab el Bahar, also known as the Sea Gate, is located close to the Portuguese square tower that overlooks the city.

We find a labyrinth of alleyways running between buildings whose whiteness is heightened by the green or blue of the shutters and doors inside the fence.

tower and sea

The region is dominated by a square tower named Al-Kamra when entering through the kasbah gate (Bab el Kasbah) on the eastern side of the fortifications, which leads to Ibn Khaldun square. We notice a large beach full of fishing boats near the tower. We pass the Great Mosque of Asilah and the Hassan II Cultural Center to Ibn Khaldun Square. It is here that the Cultural Museum, which has been held every August since 1978, is located. Throughout the rest of the year, it hosts a variety of contemporary art exhibitions.

palace Raisuni

The palace of Raisuni (Raisuli) rises in another small plaza that we reach after winding our way through the city’s laneways and along the sea’s cliffs. This house, built at the turn of the century, guards a cultural center. It was constructed at the turn of the twentieth century to house the former governor of Asilah. The Raisuli forced their victims to jump from a precipice with a free fall of more than 30 meters from this palace’s terrace. We arrive at Torreón or Mirador de Caraquia (also known as Mirador de Arcila, another name for Asilah). In this small bastion, residents and visitors come to watch the sunset and admire the breathtaking perspective over Medina and the coast.

the Kuba

The pastel green dome of the Kuba by Sidi Ahmed el Mansur can be seen at its foot and adjacent to the sea. A modest Mujahideen cemetery with approximately twenty tombs covered in glazed pottery may be seen. One of the murals created during the Cultural Festival may be seen in front of the viewpoint. Another door that leads to the beaches is Bab Krikiya, which is right next to it.

Bab Homar

Topped by Portuguese weaponry that is difficult to read due to wear and disrepair and nicknamed ‘Puerta de Tierra’ by the Spanish, it is reached through the same maze of lanes.

The new city

new city asilah

Ahfir souk

We enter the Ahfir souk on Ibn Batoutta street through this door, where we may perform all kinds of shopping. Next is Hassan II Avenue, lined with terraces serving seafood and local cuisine. Prepare to be surrounded, as there is a slew of waiters and commission-based intermediates here.

church of San Bartólomé

Buildings from the Protectorate period, such as the medersa from the 1930s, can still be found in Asilah’s new city. From the contemporary town created under the Spanish protectorate, we will visit the church of San Bartólomé, a Catholic church built in the manner of the Spanish missions of North America. Following Hassan II avenue, we will arrive at the old city, which dates from 15th-century Portuguese.

Zalaka square

The recently refurbished Zalaka square stands out in this city, where you can have breakfast or a drink because it is a charming sight. The center market and the Moulay Al Hassan Ben Mehdi promenade, enclosed by a wall, are well worth seeing (partly painted white and part original stone).

Central beach

The town’s central beach sits below this promenade, a must-see if you plan a vacation in Asilah. From the harbour, which is used for tourism and fishing, you can gaze out over the Atlantic Ocean (since the separation point between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic is Cape Spartel, about twenty minutes from Asilah by car ). Asilah residents congregate in this hamlet area to relax and enjoy the gorgeous sunsets. The market is also close, and various street musicians perform on traditional instruments from the site.

What to do in Asilah while on vacation

What to do in Asilah

Shopping: The bazaars of Asilah are an excellent alternative; it is much more relaxing to shop here than in Tangier because the trade is less aggressive. This is a perfect spot to look if you’re looking for some handmade items.

Beaches: The best beach in Asilah is Paradise Beach, located 3 kilometers (1.5 miles) south of the city. It’s a vast, fine-sand beach perfect for castle-building, camel-riding, or simply relaxing and enjoying the sun and the Atlantic wind. You can take a taxi or a buggy (horse-drawn transport) to get there. You’ll find a lovely stretch of sand and water north of the Medina.

Asilah’s Medina is clean, well-kept, and pleasant to walk around. Two main entrances are available for accessing the area: Bab el-Kasabah and Bab el-Homar.

The walls are a must-see on your vacation to Asilah since they offer the most incredible sunset views. It’s also an excellent spot for photography. The Portuguese built the walls almost 500 years ago, but they have been renovated numerous times.

Wall Paintings: For many years, Asilah in Morocco has drawn painters who have left their mark on the Medina’s colorful walls. These murals are repainted each year during the Asilah Cultural Festival in July/August. The Medina’s schools have some of the best examples of these paintings hanging on their walls.

Where can I eat?

• Casa Pepe is located in Asilah, right outside the main gate of Bab el Kasbah. The meal is served both inside and on the balcony. As an appetizer, try anchovies. You can also get some fantastic meats and French fries here.

• Medina Café: In the heart of Asilah’s main square, you’ll find this café. The hotel is owned and operated by a single family. You can start your day off right with a coffee or tea. The restaurant, which has one of the best views of the sea in the city, is one of the best. The cost is reasonable. This restaurant specializes in Moroccan cuisine.

• Casa Garcia, outside the Medina, is located on the promenade. If you enjoy seafood, this is the spot to go on your trip to Asilah.

• La Place: it’s right in the heart of the city. This restaurant is known for its seafood dishes served on the outdoor patio. It’s a nice spot to take in the beauty of the ocean.

Beaches of Asilah

Beaches of Asilah

The city’s beaches are excellent. Moving further away to less populated places, north, and south, with good beaches, is ideal.

Las Palomas

Direction Larache, turn right after about 2 km, and after 1 km, turn right into the gravel road that leads to the beach (3-4 km). If you arrive by car, you must park it in a parking area before proceeding to the beach, supervised by a Spanish-speaking man. Between 100 and 200 Dh per day, you can take a horse-drawn carriage for the entire day if you do not own a car. A trail along the coast gets you to the beach in under an hour for walkers. You can view a cave on the 4 km long natural beach with fine sand at low tide. There are beach bars where you may order grilled sardines or a fish tagine.

Mugaits Sidi (or of the Saint)

After passing through a small village and another 2-3 kilometers of driving in the same general direction as Las Palomas Beach, you’ll come to your first big intersection (dirt road and uphill). After about 5-6 kilometers, you turn right and arrive at the beach. A vast parking lot is available. BAll food is available at the beach bars, including Spanish omelets, grilled vegetables, and fish tagines. Every aspect of the property is kept immaculate. From Spanish omelets to vegetable BBQs to fish tagines, the beaches of Spain offer something for everyone. Every part of the property is kept clean.


Six kilometers away, in the direction of Tangier. At the mouth of a river, there is a beach. There are three or four beach bars where you may eat.

The beach of Oued Tahadart (of the boats)

It’s 5 kilometers after Breach, on the road to Tangier, and before the Tahadart river bridge. A sliver of a beach where you can rent a boat and go for a ride.

One of the following excursions is a fun way to round off your trip to Asilah.

Bousselham Moulay

Ecologists and naturalists will enjoy this book. The beach is 80 kilometers away from Larache. Take the freeway to Moulay Bousselham and then exit. There is a tiny fishing community with a stork, heron, and pink flamingo reserve. You may rent boats on the beach that will take you on a tour of the entire budget. Make a pricing arrangement with the boatman ahead of time. Then you may buy the fish on the beach and have it cooked for you at one of the beach bars. Many eateries may be found throughout the village.

Moulay Abdessalam and Khmiss-Bni-Arrous

Combine a visit to a souk with a pilgrimage to a highland holy hamlet (1,200 m.). The market is around 50 kilometers from Asilah. Take the route of Larache for about 15 kilometers, then turn right at the Tetouan crossroads and continue for another 10 kilometers to Khmiss-Bni-Arrows. On Thursdays, the market is held, and all residents of the neighboring mountains attend. After the market, we travel about 25 kilometers via forest-shrouded roads to Moulay Abdelsalam (a holy town for Muslims). The city contains over 20 fountains, and the saint’s mosque has a cork floor higher up the mountain. From near the mosque, you may get a bird’s eye view of the suburbs of Asilah in northern Morocco.

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