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Asilah is a fortified town on the northwest tip of the Atlantic coast of Morocco, about 31km south of Tangier. Its ramparts and gateworks remain fully intact.HistoryThe town's history dates back to 1500 B.C., when Phoenicians occupied a site called Silis or Zilis, which is being excavated some 13 km from present Asilah; that place was once considered to be the Roman stronghold Ad Mercuri. The town of Asilah itself was partly constructed by the Idrisid dynasty, and Cordoban caliph Al-Hakam II rebuilt the town in 966. The Portuguese conquered the city in 1471 and built its fortifications, but it was abandoned it because of an economic debt crisis in 1549. In 1578, Sebastian of Portugal used Asilah as a base for his troops during a planned crusade that resulted in Sebastian's death, which in turn caused the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580. In 1589 the Moroccans briefly regained control of Asilah, but then lost it to the Spanish.In 1692, the town was again 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 to 1956, it was part of Spanish Morocco. A major plan to restore the town was undertaken in 1978 by its mayor, Mohamed Benaissa. Benaissa and painter Mohamed Melehi were instrumental in organizing an art festival, the International Cultural Moussem of Asilah, that starting in 1978 began generating tourism income. It is credited with having promoted urban renewal in Asilah, and is one of the most important art festivals in the country. It 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.Asilah is in Tangier-Tetouan Region. Our Morocco day trip planning tool allows you to schedule your trip to Asilah, learn about its attractions, and find out about where else to go during your holiday.
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Top Asilah tours
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