This beautiful whitewashed harbour town is located in the northwest of Morocco on the Atlantic coast. It is situated about 40 km from the international port city of Tangier. The town is surrounded by high walls. The success of the cultural festival and the attractive seafront attracts tourists from all parts, especially during the month of July and August. The rest of the year it is an oasis of tranquility. The alleys of the medina are a hybrid of Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese styles with a unique charm. The restoration was awarded the Aga Khan Architecture Award.
Asilah was founded by the Feniciërs at the same time Mauritania was discovered during the pre-Roman and Roman times. It was an important city as here, coins were beaten. It was conquered by the Portuguese in 1471 and there and then started a lively trade with the Mediterranean countries. In 1691, the town was recaptured the Moroccan people, during the reign of Moulay Ismaïl.
During the late 19th century, Asilah was ruled by the local bandit Asilah Raissouli whose palace, between Bab Homar and the bastion, is open during the International Music Festival in August. The bandit, Raissouli, effectively specialised in the abduction of prominent foreign figures earning him huge sums of ransom money. Examples are the kidnapping of the consult of the United States and the correspondent of the Times in Tangier. In 1908 he acquired the title of pasha of Asilah. During the First World War he played in cahoots with both the Spaniards and the Germans. He was expelled from the city and rejected by Sultan Abd el-Krim.
An important event is the Moussem culturel of Asilah. This cultural event started in 1978 and takes place every year, in the month of August, without fail. There are lectures, exhibitions, performances and concerts by architects, painters, writers and intellectuals at the Hassan II Centre, Raissouli the palace and the walls of the medina. Every year large murals, and wonderful art can be seen on display.
Asilah Ventures can plan excursions to Tangier, Rabat, Chefchaouen, Lixus (where Roman remains are found).