Bokharitours

ASSILAH

       Assilah stands by the Atlantic coast, at about 52 kilometers to the south-west of Tangier. The origins of Assilah, according to archeological evidences, date back to the 6th century BC, when the Phoenicians established the trade post of Zili. But the suburbs of the city where inhabited during the prehistoric time, as prouven by the remains of a Chromlech, located in Mzoura, 10 Km distance on the South of the city.In 33 AD, the Roman Emperor, Octavius, installed hundreds of Roman veterans in Zili, and deported its legitimate inhabitants to Spain. The Berber Ketama tribe established in the area during the 9th century AD, and built an important fortress, which was used as a trading market. The site attracted merchants from Andaloucia, and from other zones of the country, and grew into a small prosperous town. In 844, the Idrissid Emir of Tangier, Kacem Ibn Idriss, fortified the small town with ramparts, and built another fortress. The new town was built on the site of the old pre-Roman settlement, and was named Assilah (the authentic). During the following century, the city grew more prosperous, and its inhabitants became well dressed in the skills of war as well as in cultural activities. Eminent scholars emerged in Assilah, during the 10th and 11th centuries, such as the poet, Ibrahim Ibn Mohammed El Assili, and his son, the other eminent scholar, Mohammed Ibrahim El Assili, who immigrated to Cordoba, and where he passed away in October 21, 1002. The eminent family of El Assili, grew roots in al Andalous, engendering generations of distinguished scholars of the Islamic Culture. Assilah went through all the events of the Almorabids' and Almowahids’ epochs. The city’s decline began, suddenly, after the Andaloucian battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (Okkab), where the Almowahids’ army, commanded by the khalif Mohammed Annacir, was defeated in July 16, 1212 by the Castilian's army of Alphonse VIII. Assilah was abandoned by its population, and to prevent the deserted city be used by the Christian enemy, the Emir Abou Kacim Al Oussafi sent his troops in 1265 to demolish all the buildings and fortifications of the abandoned city. Restored during the Merinid’s period, the city became, with Tangier, a target to the Portuguese aggression, and a base to the Wattasid Emir, Mohammed E’shaikh. The population of Assilah imposed, for long decades, a solid resistance to the incessant Portuguese attacks on the city. But the country was being used up by intestinal conflicts between Wattasids and Merinids emirs who did spend the potency of the country in fratrecide fights, leaving the country defenseless, to the advantage of the Portuguese who were looking to access the golde mines of Africa. During the ruling of King Alphonse V, the city was cannoned from sea,in August 20, 1471, by a Portuguese fleet which counted 500 ships, then it was assaulted by an army of about thirty thousand Portuguese soldiers. The inhabitants of Assilah, ill-armed and overwhelmed by the Portuguese troops, were unable to defend the city. Assilah fell under the grips of the Portuguese, who massacred two thousand of its population and captured five thousand. The wife of the Wattasid Emir, Mohammed E’shaikh, his daughters, and his son, the future Wattasid Sultan, the nicknamed Mohammed Al Portughali, were among the captives. The Portuguese fortified the city, and converted the big mosque into a cathedral. Assilah became a Portuguese trading center, occupying a strategic position to the west of the still independent Tangier, and the Straits of Gibraltar. At that time, the city exported cereals, wax, horses and cattle, and imported textile. Assilah had trading links with Portugal, Spain, Genoa, Venice and Marseilles. It is in Assilah where in 1578, the Portuguese king, Don Sebastian, landed with his portuguese army which counted about 26,000 troops, with the ambition of conquering the Sharifian Empire. His army was cut to pieces by the Saadian Army in the Battle of Oued El Makhazen, and he never returned to Portugal. Assilah fell, like Tangier, under the control of the Spaniards, until it was captured in 1686 by the Sharifian troops of Moulay Ismaïl. The ramparts surrounding the old town were built in the 15th century by the Portuguese architect Botacca. These ramparts overlooking the Atlantic at one side and the town on the other, are pierced by several gates such as Bab Homar, former Puerta Tierra abierta, Bab Bhar, or Puerta del Mar, conceal splendid Moorish styled houses, lined along quite charming streets. One of these houses belonged to the famous brigand and Pasha, the Sharif, Moulay Ahmed Raissouli, who captured the city in 1906. Durinf World War I, Raissouli, disregarding the previous Spanish support, allied to Germans. The defeat of Germany brought about his downfall, and he was driven out of Assilah by the Spaniards, when the city was occupied by the army of Lieutenant Colonel Fernandez Silvestre. Ahmed Raissouli was captured in 1924 by the agents of Abdelkrim El Khattabi, the leader of the Rif’s warriors. Today, the 20th century Hispano-Moorish residence hosts a variety of cultural events held over in the city every summer.
Raissouli
  The Pacha Moulay Ahmed Raissouly