15 Jan 10 things to find happiness in Assilah, Morocco
The pearl of Morocco, Assilah is a fortified coastal town on the northwest tip of the Atlantic. A hidden gem, this is not a popular tourist vacation spot which makes it even more special to visit.
If you’re inspired by creative places and you enjoy an artistic vibe then I’m sure you will love this place.
Here are 10 things that will make you happy in Assilah.
1 Puerto de Assilah
While the white and blue buildings contrast with the vast blue sky above, there comes the blue sea and it just wraps you in the salty smell in the port of the city. The town feels like a Mediterranean village but it is on the pacific which made it an interesting contrast. The friendly villagers, the fishermen with their nets, it’s very lively at all times of the day.
2 Palais de Raissouni
Er Raissouni was a very famous pirate who built a palace and lived in it here in Assilah. It even served as a base for Moroccan pirates from all over in the 19th century. A must see even though the place is mostly bare, the architecture is still stunning.
3 The Food
The food is delicious and very affordable here, and for me it was tajine please, fish tajine! I am obsessed with this dish and the beautiful way they serve it in a colorful cone-shaped pot, but this was the first time I had it made with fish. It is slow cooked for hours and the result is a savory delicious and very fulfilling meal topped with spices and dried fruit. It is like a carnival for the senses. Simply delicious, every meal is always followed by the sweet Moroccan Mint tea even though I would advise you to try a Casablanca beer.
(You can read my Casablanca blog here)
A culinary surprise for me was the snail soup Bebouch. Apparently snails are a local specialty, and they are made in many ways especially in a broth with spices. Would you ever try it?
4 The medina
Like many Moroccan cities, Asilah has an old town called the medina, with entrances marked by massive stone arches. The narrow cobbled streets are beautified with the whitewashed houses and blue doors. The medina is all surrounded by stone ramparts that were built by the Portuguese during the 15th century.
5 The souk
Thursday is souk day in Assilah to shop until you drop. The market place is full of vendors as well as people looking to sell their old furniture.
From traditional clothes, to beautiful ceramics, to rich fabrics, to shoes, to spices… It’s fun to witness but don’t forget you must haggle for everything.
6 The cats
As you walk around you will not fail to notice the cats everywhere! They roam free and they are a friendly feline population. Purrfect for pretty photo opportunities!
7 The church of San Bartolome
In typical colonial Moorish style, this impressive building was built by the Spanish and still houses nuns. This church is certainly a reminder of the Catholic presence in this dominantly Islamic country, and a constant call for peaceful coexistence.
8 Bab Krikiya
You can walk around aimlessly in this small city and get completely lost wandering through the old-world alleys. And as you wander through the town, you will arrive to one of the most popular places to watch the sunset: Bab Krikiya. This city rampart that overlooks the beautiful coast is just like being inside a postcard.
9 The tradition
Assilah was ruled by the Portuguese, and it is geographically very close to Spain. Most locals here therefore speak Spanish, and of course they preserve their rich Arabic heritage. Then also like most of Morocco, there is a big French influence which makes the city very rich in various traditions.
10 The culture
Known as one of Morocco’s most artistic cities, it is mainly thanks to the Cultural Festival which takes place in July and August each year. That’s when all the street art is created and it’s left for the public to enjoy all through the year. From artists, artisans and musicians, the city streets are alive with art and entertainment.
This small town is like a breath of fresh air, and it would make a fun weekend escape for anyone. The mix of culture and seaside is really a plus, and I think it’s a great way to discover Morocco all year round. Asilah you are truly original.