Asilah Cultural Festival – Tangier Day Trip

Day Trips from Tangier. Just an hour south of Tangier is a delightful seaside town, Asilah on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. Its old town, or medina, is enclosed by well-preserved fully intact, 15th-century ramparts and gates, built by colonial Portuguese. The medina is an art hub, known for its murals and Moussem Culturel International d’Asilah, an annual festival. Many of the houses of Asilah feature Mashrabiya windows, known as oriel windows. Small enclosed balconies where young women could view their suitors selected by their fathers.

An easy day trip from Tangier and much quieter than larger Moroccan cities. A popular summer getaway for locals, it exudes charm, has safe swimming beaches, quaint streets with buildings painted in bright blue and white. The cobbled streets, and old wooden doors embody the small town’s Spanish heritage. It’s a treasure trove of Spanish and Portuguese and Moorish architecture. The murals change every year during the Asilah Cultural Festival, which takes place in late July or August. You can easily stroll the cobbled streets in a few hours.

The town’s history dates to 1500 B.C., when Phoenicians occupied a site called Silis, Zili, Zilis. The Portuguese kept hold of the town but 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.

The restored Raisuni Palace is in the mid-northern part of the medina, alongside the sea walls. It was built in 1909 by Moulay Ahmed er Raisuni, (also known as Raisuli), a local rogue and pirate who rose to power and declared himself pasha of the region. He rose to notoriety and wealth partly through kidnappings and ransoms, you may remember the Wind and The Lion film with Candace Bergen and Sean Connery, depicting Raisuli. It’s a little dated, but who tires of Sean Connery or Candace Bergen in a vintage film? Raisuli, a Berber chieftain, triggers an international incident, drawing the involvement of Theodore Roosevelt, when he kidnaps an American widow and her children in 1900s Morocco.

Leaning over a sea wall, I caught a glimpse of an old cemetery, Sidi Mansour cemetery, which extends out to sea, I didn’t see a door or entry and it appears to be washed by waves. It includes two small structures, the domed Marabout or mausoleum of Sidi Ahmed ibn Moussa and, across from it, the mausoleum of his sister, Lalla Mennana. Between these structures, the ground is covered with other graves which are covered in beautiful ceramic tiles. I wouldn’t mind being laid to rest here near the sea, under an ancient tile.

Life in Asilah, Morocco

Highly Recommend a day Visit to Asilah.

Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay – Exotic Sanctuary for the Senses.

My Moroccan wanderings are often plotted, always a long list of new hotel properties to visit, souk shopping, photographing locals and exploring UNESCO village sites.

My many stopovers usually include a few beach visits – growing up near the ocean, a sunny beach beckons: Sun, sand, and me – beach therapy: endless miles of sand and lapping waves.

Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, Morocco

The north coast of Morocco is not the first stop for many tourists vacationing in the country, and neither had it been mine on my previous Camel Caravans. Traversing a new path taking less traveled roads North of Tangier, Banyan Tree at Tamouda Bay is the picture-perfect beach resort. An extraordinary blend of romance with exotic Moroccan charm. It’s the Hamptons of Morocco, who knew?

Just an hour from Tangier, on the northwestern coast of Morocco, perched in the middle of two interesting cultural sites. Ten miles from the city of Tetouan, known as the white dove and younger sister of “Granada”, a city with Hispano-Moorish footmarks. the medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Banyan Tree is a world away from the wall-to-wall medinas of Marrakech or Fez. A luxurious five-star, 92 individual suite property facing a vast, flat white sandy beach, and sapphire seas, encompassing 60 acres. The property combines the Andalusian-Moorish legacy of the region with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. The extravagant arrival area, calling it reception isn’t refined enough, is crisscrossed with long white corridors intersected by glistening blue pools, tall arched doorways laced with hand-cut mosaic tiles and typical ironwork. While the exteriors are a Moorish austere white, the interiors are extravagant, elegantly decorated with traditional elaborate Moroccan panels, and bordered in rich bronze and moody blues.

The Villa accommodation is a highlight of the resort, tempting to never leave, except to pop out to my private pool. Beach clients who sunbathe au natural, this is home for you! My bike allowed me to explore the fields surrounding the Villas. Miles of sunset shore walks are my therapy, kids, fishermen and birds dot the sand.

Banyan Tree honors local Arabesque traditions and channels Moroccan charm and history; comfortable and spacious Villas, the main living area with ultra-high ceilings open to an expansive bedroom, private bathroom, pool and small garden.

The Beach Club is an oasis and a vision of brilliant white and spectacular blue water on the edge of the sand. From the resort, it’s almost a mirage, glistening in the distance.

Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, Morocco

The spa is well known for its signature Rainforest Experience. The experience includes a hydrothermal path inviting a guest from one watery sensation to another, splashing rain drops to gentle sprays of warm mist. A sublime sanctuary for the senses!

Sultry long lunches at at Azura are a must, adjacent to a pond teeming with migrating ducks, croaking frogs, and iridescent dancing dragon flies.

Loved the Thai themed Saffron restaurant, with sunken dining area, savory menu and fun staff.

Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, Morocco

Highly Recommend Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay. A sanctuary for the senses – a hidden gem set amidst the rugged Rif Mountains and the golden sands of Morocco’s northern coast.