Asilah or Arzila (Arabic: أصيلة،; "authentic", Portuguese: Arzila) is a fortified town on the northwest tip of the Atlantic coast of Morocco, about 31 km from Tangier. Its ramparts and gateworks remain fully intact.
Its history dates back to 1500 B.C., when the Phoenicians used it as a base for trade. The Portuguese conquered the city in 1471, but John III later decided to abandon it because of an economic crisis in 1549.
In 1692, the town was taken by the Moroccans under the leadership of Moulay Ismail. Asilah served then as a base for pirates in the 19th and 20th centuries, and in 1829, the Austrians punitively bombarded the city due to Moroccan piracy.
From 1912-1956, it was part of Spanish Morocco. A major plan to restore the town was undertaken in 1978.
It is now a popular seaside resort, with modern holiday apartment complexes on the coast road leading to the town from Tangier. It hosts annual music and arts festivals, including a mural-painting festival. The best paintings remain on the Medina walls for the following years.
Asilah is twinned with:
- Sintra, Portugal
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