About Assilah

Located 35kms south of Tangiers on Morocco's Atlantic coast, Assilah is a very picturesque Andalusian town of Phoenician origins and which subsequently became a medieval Portuguese trading post. Rehabilitated and continuously developed over the past 3 decades, it has become a model for third world development and a much appreciated summer holiday destination for Europeans. Calm, extremely clean, and well maintained, the inside of the medina is pedestrian only and the streets are filled with children - both local and visitors - playing freely in the streets. This aspect makes it particularly appealing for families with children of all ages. With a permanent winter population of approximately 20,000, the annual cultural festival has contributed to the towns fame and helped draw crowds that nearly triple that number.

Today, after centuries of virtual anonymity, Assilah prospered once again as a cultural centre. Since 1979, Assilah has become the site of an annual two-week, summer festival where artists, writers, poets, musicians and intellectuals from around the world are invited to partake of its "Festival of Three Worlds", an Arab and African artistic and cultural event originally modeled on the Italian arts festival held annually in Spoleto, Italy. One of the most notable aspects of the festival is the painting of murals on the towns whitewashed walls, which are changed every other year (sometimes yearly); the artists, who come from all over the world, including Morocco, use this opportunity to work with locals, particularly the children, whom you can often see holding their paint filled brushes as they help the artist complete his mural.

This gathering of eminent writers, poets and artists worldwide is also part of a wider project -- that of architectural renovation. The project was initiated over 20 years ago, and has turned Assilah into a model for third world development.

Assilah also has an extended fine sand beach and has always attracted summer visitors from Europe, but since the Festival began in the late '70s, tourism has thrived in this town. Inside the medina, there are now small streets filled with small shops offering everything from pottery, to silver jewelry to carpets to delight the visitor. If you stroll just two blocks farther on you can still stop and watch children helping their fathers carve wooden tables, or braid the silk passamanerie that decorates a man's djelaba or a woman's kaftan, before heading towards a relaxing day on the sun-drenched beach.

Email : azzilah@gmail.com