Portuguese heritage is present in most cities in Moroccan coast, but nowhere I had the imeddiate and strong sensation of... Portuguese work, that I had in Asilah, even before entering the city.
The port, the fortress, the houses, everything seemed to breath... Portugal.
Was it a wrong idea, from a quick passing by?
With Asilah's fortress town still being intact, walking along the ramparts and sea walls for views of the sea below, and the interesting architecture of what was the Rif berber warrior leader's palace here, is a special part of any visit to Asilah.
Particularly nice to see sunsets from here - and a must do when in Asilah is to head along to the piece that juts out above the marabout (holy mans shrine - from where my main page pic is taken).
Walk along the sea barrier near the fishermans lagoon just south of Asilah's tower near where the campervans are parked, for great views of the coast, the beaches and panoramic photo shots of Asilah's fortress town and the walls that protect it from the sea.
Every year in August there is an International Arts Festival, lasting for about a month.
Through the year you can see the art of the visiting artists for the festival painted on the walls around the lovely medina with its white washed walls, narrow streets and high riad homes with interesting doors and windows.
Usually colourful and make great photographs for blowing up and framing for an interesting souvenir back home!
Enjoy looking for the next one as you wander around the streets!
The annual International Arts Festival brings international artists to Asilah - excellent art ends up painted on the walls that stays for the whole year - take a look at the paintings and many are of really high quality and are signed by the artist.
Its interesting too to see where they have come from and the story told in their painting.
Check out also the International Cultural Centre for art exhibitions during the festival, and also when we there during one year's festival there was also an art exhibition inside the Portugeuse tower.
Asilah's walled town is one of the most intact walled towns in Morocco - you can walk right around the walls including those that face the raging seas if you walk at low tide if you have more than the usual sense of adventure - otherwise keep to the inner walkways that follow the inner side of the walls and get good views down to the sea where you can.
Impressive high and thick walls, Portugeuse tower, gates - still with Portugeuse insignia intact, and cannons still in their positions, but unfortunately the sentry posts high on the top of the walls are not open to the public!
Morocco in Spring ie March and April is the countryside at its loveliest - in many areas around Morocco you will see the countryside lush green and blooming in multiple colours of flowers - this is of course a beautiful time to visit - before the heat of summer matures the crops in the fields for harvesting and dries up the countryside to a dry brown.
Around Asilah is no exception - fields of colour flowers, or large patches of blue or pink! - along with colour coordinated yellow flowers that line the road edge beneath the wattle blooming its bright yellow flowers that line much of the roadside between Tangier and Asilah.
Walking around town, any grassed areas, even the ramparts with grass growing on them, or old walls and buildings in the medina have blooms displayed!
I had been one afternooon to the big weekly souk a few years back - the sort that many travel from miles around to bring stuff to sell or locals who go to have the weekly big buy up - their excellent outdoor supermarket!
This time I dont know what made the difference - whether it was being earlier in the day - but it seemed so much more colourful and alive, vibrant and excitingly photogenic! - but here with your camera you still have to be quick as the ladies really dont like to have their photos taken even if you are not aiming at faces!
Particularly of interest is seeing the large number of ladies in 'Rif mountain' style - straw hats with colourful woollen string and pompoms on them and red and white striped skirts or aprons, and generally underskirts showing out the bottom and with towels or shawls wrapped around their shoulders.
When travelling to and from Asilah you will often see these ladies making their journeys on donkeys. They are in even more abundance along the roadways between Tangier and Tetouan and Chefchouen and in the Chefchouen town and markets itself - ie generally the areas closer the Rif mountains!
The Asilah weekly souk is on the far edge of town of the side away from Tangier - near the shanty town - about 10 or 15 minutes walk from the medina - catch a small taxi to get there for about 10 dirham and then you can easily find your own way back!
This very thick walled tower, definitely heavily fortified, was part of the defense systems during the time the portugeuse had power for about 200 years between 1471 and when Moroccan control was gained in 1691.
In all the times Ive visited Asilah Ive only ever noticed this open once when in Asilah during the International Art Festival - and there was an exhibition of art to see around the walls in the rooms of the 2 or 3 floors - some views from the rather small windows but sadly no entrance permitted to the roof for views from the top!
Asilah is known for its beaches. It is a popular destination for moroccan families during the summer esp those from Fes, Mekness and Marrakish. The sandy beaches are located to the north of the city.
Al Qomrah means the Room in Arabic. This Tower -which is more than a room- was built in 1505 by the Portugese after captuirng the city. It is 10 by 20 meters and has a height of 50 meters. It is a ground plus 2 floors. It used to be a residence for King Emanual's daughter who was married to the City Governer.
She lived in the top most floor. The first floor belonged to the Military counsel while the ground floor was used as a prison.This tower is connected with a tunnel that will lead to where King Hassan II Auditorium is now located.
This tower was renovated in 1994. There was a cermony held in Asilah for this event that was attended by King Mohammed VI the crown prince at that time and Portugese President Mário Soares. Al Qomrah has always been a popular destination for Portugese tourist.
This is another Tomb with an unkown inside it. I tried to find out who this person was but it turned out that Al Imam Al Aseli was born and raised in Aselah only to live and die in Cordoba in 1002.
This tomb is located on Al Imam Al Aseli road in from of the castle. You'll this little building (picture) in front of the before you get to the resturants.
This was built in the early 20th century. Mass is still held every Sunday. It is possible to visit the building any time during the week. When The Portuguese occupied the city in the 16th century they converted the Grand Mosque into a church and named St Bartholomew Church.
This is an annual event during the last week in August. If you come during this event, you better book in advance as rooms are taken. During this fesetival there is a daily seminars and discussion panels over various topics. There are various art exhibits in venues in town during that time.
The Seminars are held in King Hassan II auditorium. This building house an art exhibit.
The Grand mosque along with the mosque of Lala Aicha are probably the only things that exist in old town dating prior to the Portugese occupation. Everything else was destroied.
The Grand Mosque was the seen of the last pocket of resistance against the invasion and hundred of people died in it. The Moseque was converted into a a St Mari church. You can easily find this mosque which located near Bab Al Bahr or Bab Al qasbah.