Charming

Assilah

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.

Chefchaouen

Inside 1001 nights

If you have been in Chefchaouen and heard an eerie chant that sounds of holiness, that’s the call to prayer. And if you’ve ever wondered where that comes from and who does it, then you’re wondering the same thing thousands of tourists are each summer. 

The octagonal minaret is the source of the mystic chanting, and Muslim priests are the ones with the haunting voice.

The Grand Mosque is one of Chefchaouen’s main attractions. It’s situated in the center of the city, next to Outa-El-Hammam, and it is considered to be the main spot for sightseeing tours.There are two rules, however; the first is that you can’t enter the mosque, you’ll have to do your admiration from the outside if you’re not of Muslim belief. And the second is - bring a camera. The exotic, culturally-mixed, and appeal of the big mosque attracts enormous crowds. You’ll notice Muslims entering the mosque at dawn, noon, evening, sundown, and night, five times a day, the mosque lights up with divinity, and a feeling of belonging and comfort spreads around the area.

The water’s front

Ras-El-Ma translates to “The water’s head” It is a source of falling water. Scenes like Ras-El-Ma’s are what give chefchaouen its appeal and charm. During your adventures within Chaouen, you’ll find a handful of small cascades that come down from a runny spring.

In order to get to the spring itself, you’ll have to do some rough trekking, as there are some buildings that cover the spring and impair a clear vision. The water passes through the eastern side of Chaouen, until it eventually reaches the Mediterranean Sea.

Having your whoe ecursion centered on Ras-El-Ma isn’t the most productive to do when visitng Chefchaouen. Instead, visit Chaouen in its entirity and make the waterfalls a part of the excursion. The whole experience won’t take much time. There are distinct waterfalls in addition to regular ones, but then again, they’re not worth a whole “excursion”. Wander around Chaouen and discover all of its wonders.

Outa-El-Hammam

Picture a smaller, brighter Jemaa-El-Fna, minus the snake charmers and storytellers. And while Outa-El-Hammam may not share the “entertaining” factors with Marrakech, it shares its countless food stalls, cafés, and jubilant atmosphere.

Hundreds of people choose Outa-El-Hammam as a meeting point. There are many monuments to be discovered, and countless liters of green tea to be consumed. Opposite of the square, you’ll see the ethnological museum and Kasbah of Chefchaouen - and yes, much like Marrakech, it is red and massive. 

The Museum

The Kasbah was built in 1471 by Rachid Ben Ali. It is located on the Outa El-Hammam square, next to Chefchaouen’s great mosque. During the 15th-century, Christians attacked Chaouen, repeatedly, in order to take control over Morocco. The resistance of Banu Rachid declared the Holy War on them. Not long after, the Banu Rashid family built this Kasbah in order to protect the city by a wall. The centre of Chefchaouen was developed quickly, and the city owes a great deal to Banu Rachid.

Chaouen’s Kasbah

The Kasbah was built in 1471 by Rachid Ben Ali. It is located on the Outa El-Hammam square, next to Chefchaouen’s great mosque. During the 15th-century, Christians attacked Chaouen, repeatedly, in order to take control over Morocco. The resistance of Banu Rachid declared the Holy War on them. Not long after, the Banu Rashid family built this Kasbah in order to protect the city by a wall. The centre of Chefchaouen was developed quickly, and the city owes a great deal to Banu Rachid.

Essaouira

The Atlantic heaven

Essaouira is a city in western Morocco that faces the Atlantic Coast. Essaouira literally translates to “ramparty”, as in a less intimidating rampart. Although its name might not strike awe, its walls are still standing and enclose a large part of the city.

The truly charming thing about Essaouira is that you don’t need a guide. Roaming it by yourself will infuse a feeling of ease into your soul. Getting lost within its ports will feel the exact opposite of feeling astray, instead,  you’ll get a sense of belonging.

Photographers, filmmakers, and Jimi Hendrix, all fell in love with Essaouira. It’s older parts such as the medina; where markets boast a breathtaking display of leather slippers, ostrich feathers, and colourful chaos of spices. 

Essaouira’s port, however stenchy, is the most serene place on the Atlantic Coast. Feel its culture and experience in the port life. Watch swooping seagulls waiting for fishermen to give them a couple of sardines, and feel the breezy zephyr going through your hair.

La Scala

Thèodore Cornut was responsible for designing La Scala in 1766. Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah approached the French architect and worked for three years to construct two Scalas, one for the port and one for the Kasbah.Another project, “Porte de la Marine” was built by Ahmed El Englizi. A gate that leads to the Marine, with artillery guns and other types of guns brought from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. Most of the guns are engraved with countries of origin; Spain, Portugal, Peru, Mexico, and The Netherlands. Sevilla and Barcelona were heavily invested in the arms business during 1742 and 1782; which is where most of the guns were made.

Precious parts

Essaouira’s old town, the medina, is comprised of several entrances. Different gates lead to the medina. A Kasbah inside the medina was home to the Sultanate. The medina was modelled and inspired by European town planning. There are two different quarters: the first leads to Bab El Menzah to Bab Doukkala, and the other leads from Bab Marrakech to Bab Lebhar. 

Bab Doukkala served as a new home for the Jewish community in Essaouira. Since the old Mellah got smaller and unable to fully accommodate the Jewish community, they had to search for another sanctuary, and Bab Doukkala did just that.

Some of Essaouira’s parts are influenced by traditional Arabic planning. That means dead-ends, tight alleyways, and narrow streets. They were used as housing for the soldiers and the Sultan’s ‘Black slave Soldiers’ from Agadir. The latter was stationed in Mogador for the remainder of their service.

La Scala

Thèodore Cornut was responsible for designing La Scala in 1766. Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah approached the French architect and worked for three years to construct two Scalas, one for the port and one for the Kasbah.

Another project, “Porte de la Marine” was built by Ahmed El Englizi. A gate that leads to the Marine, with artillery guns and other types of guns brought from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. Most of the guns are engraved with countries of origin; Spain, Portugal, Peru, Mexico, and The Netherlands. Sevilla and Barcelona were heavily invested in the arms business during 1742 and 1782; which is where most of the guns were made.

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