Morocco – The walled medina of Asilah south of Tangier

When a while ago I began to travel assiduously to the north of Morocco , besides knowing the main cities like Tetouan or Tangier , I wanted to plan the visit of other outstanding places.

Specifically, near Tangier you have Asilah and closer to the aforementioned city of Tetouan, Chefchaouen .

Both places are characterized by having very picturesque medinas that reflect the long history of Spanish presence, and which have become corners very visited by tourists.

Entrance to the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco
Entrance to the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco


In order to prioritize the visit, before the question that made connoisseurs of both places which one they liked the most, there really was no coincidence.

The key is that while Chefchaouen is a small mountain town whose medina extends along a hillside, Asilah is a town on the Atlantic coast.

Having already visited Asilah a few times . I will tell you that it is a charming corner with its own personality that is due to its location on the seashore.

Indeed, Asilah is located just 30 kilometers south of Tangier , and is the most recommended visit in its surroundings during a trip to what was the international city of northern Morocco .

History of Asilah

Its long history goes back to the time of the Carthaginians when said coastal enclave became a strategic port for maritime trade.

Corner in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco
Corner in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco

When it fell into the hands of the Romans , Asilah became populated by Iberians , with what began its link with the Iberian Peninsula .

A key moment in its history was when in 1471 the Portuguese sent a large naval fleet to occupy Asilah , where they built the current walled enclosure that you will see on the shores of the sea.

A century later it was when Portugal and its possessions in the north of present-day Morocco passed by the hands of the Spaniards, although in later periods it was controlled by the Rif .

Asilah was also part of the Spanish protectorate in Morocco , and until the independence of this country in 1956, which can be seen by the presence of a couple of restaurants with the names of their Spanish owners.

To get to Asilah from nearby Tangier , my advice is to not go by the inner highway that goes to Rabat.

Corner in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco
Corner in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco

On the contrary, when leaving Tangier, just before accessing said highway, follow the indication of Asilah on the road that runs along the huge and long Atlantic beach that extends almost from the Cape Espadel to the same coastal enclave.

You will have the opportunity to see some very beautiful landscapes of the coast and that impressive beach.

What to see and do in Asilah

Asilah is an enclave that has about 12,000 inhabitants, but due to its tourist attraction in summer, it can exceed 100,000 inhabitants.

I have never visited it in summer, but in spring and winter, and at this time outside the holiday season is when you can appreciate its true charm.

You will see that the medina is surrounded by the wall that the Portuguese built, and its interior is completely pedestrian.

Defensive tower in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco
Defensive tower in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco

At the medina you will enter through the Bab Al Kasba gate , and after passing by the Great Mosque (the first one on the left), you will reach the main square where a large defensive tower rises ( Borj Al Kamra ) .

It is an eminently residential medina, in this sense very different from the aforementioned of Chefchaouen .

While there are some streets with craft shops and just souvenirs , especially walk through alleys and passages with houses.

All these houses have a very bright white color on their facades, which also highlight the decoration with blue and the green of the window lattices.

In this regard, I have told you that Asilah is a place where many artisans reside , who, in small establishments or on the street, will offer you their products.

You will also see many facades of houses decorated with artistic murals, which are renewed every year on the occasion of a festival that takes place in the town.

Strolling through narrow streets and going to the walled area along the coast, you will reach the most crowded enclave by visitors in Asilah , the south-eastern bastion of the wall.

Corner in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco
Corner in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco


From there you have beautiful views of the coastal façade of the town, which combines the white color of the houses with the ocher color of the stones that make up the wall.

Next to this bastion, where in all my visits there was a group playing traditional Moroccan music, you will also see the Kuba de Sidi Mansur and its colorful cemetery.

And at dusk, I can confirm that at any time of the year this corner is always crowded with people who concentrate to see the spectacular sunset over the ocean.

Where to eat in Asilah

At the time of eating in Asilah , although next to the main door of the medina there is a small street full of tourist restaurants, I will advise you in particular the two “Spanish” restaurants mentioned above.

Both have in common that their specialty is a great variety of fresh fish, and that their owners are ancient Spaniards from the time of the protected .

Moroccan music in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco
Moroccan music in the medina of Asilah in northern Morocco


Right next to the aforementioned main door is the small restaurant Casa Pepe, and in the beach area, in a parallel street you have Casa Garcia , a large establishment well known and always very busy.

In short, I tell you that Asilah is one of the corners with the most charm and an essential visit on a route through the north of Morocco .