A short journey along the coast from Tangier and you can transport yourself into completely different world. Asilah is a small, former Portuguese town with a Bohemian atmosphere. Cultural festivals and art are very important to the people of Asilah; the enticing medina is surrounded by 15th Century ramparts and as well as the rugged rocky coastline there is a beautiful beach.
It was not by luck that the Asilah medina won the Agha Khan architecture award. Its restored streets bordered by white houses with green and glue shutters are a pure marvel. The old Hispano-Moorish town is surrounded by ramparts dating from the Portuguese period (end of the 15th century) part of which gives onto the rocks overhanging the sea. Three monumental gates and a more discreet passage lead into the medina. On the Place Ibn Khaldoun stands the Al Kamra tower, a 15th-century Portuguese dungeon.
Asilah is quite quiet during the winter, the small town really comes alive from the spring and early summer, during its famous cultural moussem. Since the 1970s, the town's cachet has attracted many artists including several Moroccan painters. Many of their works can be admired directly on the town's walls. Other painters are exhibited all year round at the Hassan II Center in the heart of the ancient medina. The Raissouni palace rises up from a neighboring street. This beautiful Hispano-Moorish-style house is also home to a cultural center. More recently, the great Prince Bandar Ben Soltane Library was opened. Benefiting from the latest technologies, it is housed on two levels and includes, among other things, a 650-seat auditorium and a cybercafé.
At the beginning of August, during the cultural moussem, a wide range of events, street theatre and other performances occupy the medina's network of alleyways. This event, which celebrates visual arts, folklore and world cultures, has taken place every year for over 30 years. There are many places to come across artists. Among them, Pacha Raissouni's Palace and the Hassan II Center host international encounters, conferences and exhibitions. In Asilah, pride of place is given to women in a dedicated festival. Walk through the medina's flower-decked streets during the day and, in the evening, it is a must to spend a minute on the Place El Krikiya, in the medina, to watch the sun set over the ocean.
Asilah is also famous for its long fine sandy beaches. Whether the one close to the city center, or the one at Rmilat, 4km from the city. Walks along the coast road by the sea are still very much enjoyed and the restaurants offering high quality fish abound. Sporting activities are now on the increase and a new marina will soon be ready to receive sailboats from around the world. It is also possible to enjoy fishing or take a horse or camel ride along the vast expanse of beaches.