ASSILAH: GUIDED VISIT

Asilah, visita turística

The first archeological remains that have been found in Asilah are Phoenician´s remains dating back to 2nd Century b.C. Thanks to these remains it has been possible to establish that this coastal zone was visited by Phoenicians  and Greeks and, later on, by Carthagenians, during which time the city enjojed a high status thanks to trade. They even minted their own coins. Later on, it was occupied by the Romans in the Ist century b.C.

However, the name of Asilah came much later, in the year 712, when it was conquered by the Arabs turning it into an important trading post for merchants from southern of Spain and their neighbouring regions. In this period, together with the commercial and economical development of the city, there is a cultural resurgence promoted by a generation of writers and scholars, coinciding with the time of the Idrisides.

Portugal will be the first European power to come to this zone, in the year 1471; in that period the Portuguese transformed the city into a commercial centre, turning it into a fortress devoting itself to trade on the route of the Saharan gold. In 1588, the Portuguese Monarch himself, Sebastian I, arrive to the city with his army with the intention of conquering Morocco. However, he was defeated in Alcazarquivir, and the Saidies took back the city.

After the death of the Portuguese King, the city ended at the hands of the Spanish crown and so the city became an important fortress between the XV and XVI centuries. In 1691, Mulay Ismail reconquered it and in 1906 Raisuli proclaimed himself pasha establishing a reign of terror. Later on, the city suffered important damages in 1860 caused by the bombardment of the Spanish Navy .

THE MEDINA

The above mentioned ramparts, built in the 15th C. by the Portuguese monarch Alfonso V, whose faded royal coat of arms can still be seen in one of the towers, are made up of blocks of calcareous stone.  The walls encircle the medina or old city are still in good condition; they are 1250 metres long, and are strengthen by 6 semicircular towers, having 5 gates (Bab) which lead to the exterior.

 

Asilah
Medina map

We can enter the Medina by the Gate of the Mar Bah Bahr (1), opposite the harbour parking. The first building that we see (on the right) date from the time of the Protectorate, like the Koranic school ( Madrasa), and next to it the schools of Sidi Mohamed Ali Marzok (a), built by Larrucea in the years 1929-30 and (on the left) there is the Portuguese Tower El Karma (b) which survived the dramatic siege of 1580 but not the unfortunate restoration of 1993. If we move along the maritime façade of the wall (on the west) we come to Ibn Khaldoun squarer (c) from which we can watch a romantic sunset. Continuing our stroll we come to the access gate to RaissouliPalace (d), built at the beginning of last century by the famous bandit  and  turned recently into the Culture Palace.

We follow the ramparts until we reach the tower (e) that goes into the sea (The Karaki). From this place we have a beautiful view of the medina´s maritime façade and of Sidi Mansour graveyard (f). The dome of the Mausoleum and the mujahidin graveyard with the graves covered with multicolour tiles stand out. A perfect place to watch the sunset. Next to it, a photogenic gate that leads to the sea (Bab Krikiya) (1).

We keep walking, towards the Souk, along Sidi Tayer street, it leads us past the Mosque Ben Ayad (g), we take Sidi M´Barek street that gives the name to the mosque (h), and the street Al Kadi with its mosque Zegouri (i) until we reach our next destination the Souk, and ideal place to amble along aimlessly and do our shopping.

We can access the modern city through the gate Bab el Homar (5) (see Modern city) or we can continue towards Sidi Abdellah square (j), along Al Kasaba street (k) where the Hassan II International Meetings Centre is located and opposite the Great Mosque. Before leaving the medina through the Bab Kasaba gate (3) we could take a look to a beautiful stone house on the left.


THE MODERN CITY

The best option to start the visit to the “other” Asilah is to begin our stroll from the same place (the harbour´s parking), always skirting the city walls, pass in front the gate  Bab la Kasaba (3), continue along the Avenue Hassan II, where we will find the gate Bab el Homar (59, and finishing the stroll in the small but interesting Souk of Ahfir (l) where they sell a tasty Moroccan fruit, popular ceramics and birds.

 

Asilah
Asilah city

It´s worth walking along Hassan II Avenue, a commercial street par excellence and a favourite souk of the local people to stock up with every day products. Retrace our steps to Zallaka Square (3) and continue along the pedestrian avenue Abel Moumen Ali Bnou until Mohamed V square (m), the town´s main centre. There you will find one of the entrances to the covered Central Market which we advise you to visit. Leaving by the other gate we come to the Catholic Church.  Come down to the Promonade along Prince Iritier Sidi Mohamed Avenue (n) to finish the circuit.

strong>Alcazarquivir, and the Saidies took back the city.

After the death of the Portuguese King, the city ended at the hands of the Spanish crown and so the city became an important fortress between the XV and XVI centuries. In 1691, Mulay Ismail reconquered it and in 1906 Raisuli proclaimed himself pasha establishing a reign of terror. Later on, the city suffered important damages in 1860 caused by the bombardment of the Spanish Navy .

THE MEDINA

The above mentioned ramparts, built in the 15th C. by the Portuguese monarch Alfonso V, whose faded royal coat of arms can still be seen in one of the towers, are made up of blocks of calcareous stone.  The walls encircle the medina or old city are still in good condition; they are 1250 metres long, and are strengthen by 6 semicircular towers, having 5 gates (Bab) which lead to the exterior.

 

Asilah
Medina map

We can enter the Medina by the Gate of the Mar Bah Bahr (1), opposite the harbour parking. The first building that we see (on the right) date from the time of the Protectorate, like the Koranic school ( Madrasa), and next to it the schools of Sidi Mohamed Ali Marzok (a), built by Larrucea in the years 1929-30 and (on the left) there is the Portuguese Tower El Karma (b) which survived the dramatic siege of 1580 but not the unfortunate restoration of 1993. If we move along the maritime façade of the wall (on the west) we come to Ibn Khaldoun squarer (c) from which we can watch a romantic sunset. Continuing our stroll we come to the access gate to RaissouliPalace (d), built at the beginning of last century by the famous bandit  and  turned recently into the Culture Palace.

We follow the ramparts until we reach the tower (e) that goes into the sea (The Karaki). From this place we have a beautiful view of the medina´s maritime façade and of Sidi Mansour graveyard (f). The dome of the Mausoleum and the mujahidin graveyard with the graves covered with multicolour tiles stand out. A perfect place to watch the sunset. Next to it, a photogenic gate that leads to the sea (Bab Krikiya) (1).

We keep walking, towards the Souk, along Sidi Tayer street, it leads us past the Mosque Ben Ayad (g), we take Sidi M´Barek street that gives the name to the mosque (h), and the street Al Kadi with its mosque Zegouri (i) until we reach our next destination the Souk, and ideal place to amble along aimlessly and do our shopping.

We can access the modern city through the gate Bab el Homar (5) (see Modern city) or we can continue towards Sidi Abdellah square (j), along Al Kasaba street (k) where the Hassan II International Meetings Centre is located and opposite the Great Mosque. Before leaving the medina through the Bab Kasaba gate (3) we could take a look to a beautiful stone house on the left.


THE MODERN CITY

The best option to start the visit to the “other” Asilah is to begin our stroll from the same place (the harbour´s parking), always skirting the city walls, pass in front the gate  Bab la Kasaba (3), continue along the Avenue Hassan II, where we will find the gate Bab el Homar (59, and finishing the stroll in the small but interesting Souk of Ahfir (l) where they sell a tasty Moroccan fruit, popular ceramics and birds.

 

Asilah
Asilah city

It´s worth walking along Hassan II Avenue, a commercial street par excellence and a favourite souk of the local people to stock up with every day products. Retrace our steps to Zallaka Square (3) and continue along the pedestrian avenue Abel Moumen Ali Bnou until Mohamed V square (m), the town´s main centre. There you will find one of the entrances to the covered Central Market which we advise you to visit. Leaving by the other gate we come to the Catholic Church.  Come down to the Promonade along Prince Iritier Sidi Mohamed Avenue (n) to finish the circuit.

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