The other Northern pearl
On the northwestern tip of the Atlantic Ocean, Assilah boasts amazing architecture and rewards every comer with a cool refreshing breeze. It is situated 31 kilometres south of Tangier. The art within Assilah has always been key to defining it as a city.
Assilah’s strategic location and nourishing summer breeze have made everyone want to conquer it. Starting with the Phoenicians, in 1500 B.C. It was used as a base for trade. Next, it was the Portuguese, they conquered Assilah in 1471; after which it was abandoned because of economical reasons in 1549. The Portuguese did not stop there. Sebastian of Portugal used Assilah as a base town for his troops in a planned crusade, which resulted in his unfortunate death in 1580. Nine years later, Moroccans regained control over Assilah, only to lose it, yet again, to the Spanish.
Moulay Ismail took Assilah back in 1692, where the city served as a pirate haven during the 19th and 20th century. Mohammed Benaissa restored the city in 1978.
The International Cultural Moussem of Assilah was created that same year. It was a clever way to generate tourism and award the city’s economy a boost - and that turned out to be a brilliant plan. In 36 years, the city went from a monthly average income of 50$ to 140$.
Today, Assilah is a seaside, jubilant city that shares the Ocean with its pearl-sister, Tangier.