The ancient Cities in the Northern Atlantic Section of Morocco
By Seif Kamel
The Establishments of the Romans in Morocco
During the reign of Juba II and Ptolemy, the kings who ruled Mauritania under the Roman Authority, many Roman cities were established in Morocco. Under the Roman rule, these cities were transformed into colonies such as Bansa and Lixus or free towns like Sala or Volubilis. Many tours to Morocco include a visit to these historical cities.
The residences of these cities enriched their hometowns by building basilicas, capitols, and many other structures. They have also adapted to the Roman style of architecture building that included courtyards with many columns and coated the grounds with mosaics. They even imported bronze pottery from Italy and Egypt.
The inhabitants of these ancient towns even learned the Roman bathes culture which they used for relaxing, personal cleanness, and for socializing as well. Some of the Roman baths are still in a good shape for tourists who spend their holidays in Morocco to view
The same as in Rome, the centerpiece of these cities were the forums that consisted of different markets and public areas. Some Roman forums survived until today and many Morocco travel packages include exploring some of them.
Asilah was actually established in ancient times by the Phoenicians. The city was an important center in Mauritania prior to the Roman invading of the region as coins were minted in Asilah. The importance of the Asilah was never less under the rule of the Romans as they give it big consideration.
The Protégées took control of Asilah in 1471 and it became an important transit point of the trading routs between Africa and the European countries and the same as many other regions in the Northern section of the country, Morocco regained its control over Asilah during the reign of Mawlai Ismail. Asilah receives a number of tourists who spend their vacations in Morocco.
At the end of the 19th century a brigand and kidnapper who was called Riassouli took control of Asilah and made it his base for criminal activities. Afterwards, Abdel Aziz who was granted with the title of Pasha resorted to the city and built himself a palace by the sea because he was exiled in 1924 by the Spanish authorities.
This small attractive Andalusian town is actually surrounded with walls, the same as many other Moroccan cities. There are many houses in the streets of Asilah that has wonderful Mashrabeya screens and wooden ornaments. Many travelers who go on Morocco private tours would pay the city a visit.
Northwest of the city, there are stone tombs covered with glazed tile located in Criquita jetty. The city has many gates; the first is called Bab Al Bahr, or the gate of the sea, and opposite to it, there is Bab Al Homar, or the gate of lands, with the Portuguese rampart that leads into the modern town of Asilah.
The Center of Hassan II hosts many events and exhibitions in the summer. Many artists and painters also visit the city to leave their marks on its walls. These cultural events attract many tourists to spend trips in Morocco.
M’asoura Stone Circle
This Neolithic site, one of the most ancient historical monuments in Morocco and Northern Africa, is locate 27 kilometers Southeast of Asilah.
This site was most probably the burial place of some ancient local ruler. It consists of 200 standing stones ranging in height from half a meter to five meters and surrounded by a burial area that is 55 meters in circumference. Many of the historical monuments in the country are added to numerous Morocco tours.
This monument is considered to be rare in Northern Africa because of its massive size. It looks similar to other monuments in Spain.
The stones are decorated with carvings of shells and bronze weapons which are also identical to some Spanish monuments that were excavated.
This ancient town was the inland port of Wadi Sebou and the most civilized city in Mauritania. During the 3rd century BC, it was the center for ceramics production and trading as well. Bansa today is among the destinations tourists would like to explore when they spend trips in Morocco.
Bansa became a Roman colony from 33 to 25 BC and it remained as a rich prosperous commercial center until the end of the 3rd century AD. The ruins of the old city of Bansa are visited by a number of tourists who spend their travel packages in Morocco.
The entrance to this ancient city is through the gateways leading to a basilica and the paved and arched forums. To the South of this section, lies the capitol where many alters stand before the temple’s five chambers.
In the Western section of the town, there are the Roman baths that include many rooms where the Romans carried out their bathing rituals. There are many wall paintings and a brick floor passageway leads to another Roman bath situated on a lower floor. Many Morocco tours include a visit to this ancient site.
The Bansa Table, a famous document that was unearthed in Bansa, was an edict which Caracalla granted the city not to pay any taxes in return to the elephants, lions, and different animals that were sent to Rome for the entertainment of the emperors.
Al Kaser Al Kebir
This town takes its name from the great massive fortress that controlled the roads going to the ports during the Almoravids and Almohad dynasties.
It was in a valley nearby where the battle of the Three Kings took place in 1578 and the battle was described as the “last crusade undertaken by the Christians of the Mediterranean ”.
This battle was instigated by Al Motawakil, the Saadis King, who has been driven out of Morocco, was on the side of the crusaders against the Moroccans. He had an agreement with the king of Portugal, Sebastio, to win back his kingdom in Morocco.
The battle was titled “the Three Kings” because Al Motawakil, Sebastio, and even their opponent the Saadis king, Al Malik all died in this battle.
The city of Kaser El Kebir today is a large center today and a big market is held here every Sunday. The products sold include many local goods, olive oil, plants, fruits, vegetables, among many other items.
Souk Al Arba Rharb
Located in the northwest section of Rharb, there is a big market that is usually busy on Wednesday selling all sorts of vegetables and fruits.
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