Asilah’s largely residential medina is surrounded by sturdy stone fortifications built by the Portuguese in the 15th century. Within the walls are tranquil narrow streets lined by white houses with blue or green decorative touches; many of these have been purchased and painstakingly restored by foreigners. Although this restoration work has left the medina much sanitised, its winding lanes, jalousies (wooden, trellis-like window shutters) and colourful murals – painted each year during the Asilah Festival – make it very photogenic.
Access to the ramparts is limited. The southwestern bastion is the best spot for views over the ocean and is a popular spot at sunset. It also offers a peek into the nearby Koubba of Sidi Mansur (closed to non-Muslims) and the Mujaheddin Graveyard.
The southern entrance to the medina, Bab Homar, is topped by the much-eroded Portuguese royal coat of arms. The main entrance, Bab Al Kasaba, leads to the Great Mosque, which is closed to non-Muslims. The medina is busiest on Thursdays, Asilah’s main market day.