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Asilah waterfront
Asilah waterfront
Asilah is located in Morocco
Location in Morocco
Coordinates: 35°28′N 6°2′W / 35.467°N 6.033°W / 35.467; -6.033Coordinates: 35°28′N 6°2′W / 35.467°N 6.033°W / 35.467; -6.033
Country  Morocco
Region Tanger-Tetouan-Al Hoceima

Asilah (Arabic: أصيلة،‎‎; "authentic", Portuguese: Arzila, Spanish: Arcila) is a fortified town on the northwest tip of the Atlantic coast of Morocco, about 31 km south of 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.[1]

From 1912–1956, it was part of Spanish Morocco. A major plan to restore the town was undertaken in 1978 by its mayor, Mohamed Benaissa. The first edition of an art festival known as the International Cultural Moussem of Asilah was launched that year to help generate tourism. It was successful in generating revenue for the city and played a role in raising the average monthly income from $50 in 1978 to $140 in 2014. The festival features local artwork and music and continues to attract large amounts of tourists.[2]

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.[3] The best paintings remain on the Medina walls for the following years.

International relations[edit]

Asilah is twinned with:



  1. ^ "'Abd ar-Rasham". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 2010. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  2. ^ Emma Katz (2014). "Art and the Economy in Amman". Journal of Georgetown University-Qatar Middle Eastern Studies Student Association. Globalization and the Middle East: Youth, Media & Resources, 7. doi:10.5339/messa.2014.7. 
  3. ^ "The murals of Asilah". Retrieved 19 July 2012.