Larache is a port city in northwest Morocco, located on the Atlantic coast, about 86 km from Tangier and 40 km from Asilah, which retains many traces of its Spanish past. It has an excellent location, on a cliff on the left bank of the Lukos River estuary. Here are the best things to do in Larache.
The mythology wraps up its history. According to it, it is one of the places where the “Garden of the Hesperides” could have been located, where a tree that gave golden apples that granted immortality grew and was guarded by Ladon, a dragon with a hundred heads that never slept.
What To Do in Larache
Place de la Liberation
This square, built during the time of the protectorate (then called Plaza de España), is the nerve centre of the city. It has an oval shape to fit the walls of the medina and the main avenues and streets of the colonial city start from it.
It is a large square, centered by a garden of palms and surrounded by buildings, mostly in neo-Arabic style, with arcades and arches, which mark the boundary between the colonial expansion and the traditional medina. Both worlds are connected by the Bab el Themis door, in Spanish-Moorish style, with a white and ochre arch and a wooden eaves on the top.
Medina de Larache
It is a small and somewhat deteriorated medina, but it has a lot of charm: walls painted halfway blue, narrow and winding streets, passages and streets that descend to the sea.
From the Plaza de la Liberación, crossing the door of the medina, we go directly to the long and crowded Plaza de la Alcaicería or Zoco Chico, which is lined with arcades resting on columns painted blue and housing shops of all kinds. On one side of the square stands the Grand Mosque of Larache.
Through the door of the Alcazaba (Bad al-Kasbah), the oldest in Larache, we began to walk the streets of the medina, to reach the Placeta and the Mosque of Answar with high octagonal minaret. Nearby, in the Makhzen Square, a viewpoint allows us to contemplate a beautiful view of the port.
On one side of this square stands the Torre del Judio (Jewish Tower), square in shape and with a coat of arms of Spanish origin on the façade, which today houses a small archaeological museum. We also find here the singular and imposing Stork’s Castle, of triangular plant and surrounded by the Garden of the Hesperides.
The Atlantic Balcony
Next to Liberation Square, on the edge of the sea, is the Balcony of the Atlantic, a viewpoint and promenade from which there are spectacular views of the port and the mouth of the Lukos River.
Walking towards the left we reach the Matadero, with its unmistakable Spanish inscription, and the Spanish cemetery where the tomb of French writer Jean Genet, who lived the last years of his life in Larache, is located.
To the right we find a building of modernist architecture that houses the Spanish consulate. Opposite, the unique towers of the Castle of Cupulillas or Kelibach, so called because of the small domes that crown its roof.
The archaeological site of Lixus is one of the most important places to see in Larache
The Ruins Of The Ancient City Of Lixus
This archaeological site, which was successively Phoenician, Carthaginian, Mauritanian and Roman, is located on a steep hill about five km from the city. To get there you have to reach the other side of the Lukos. The enclosure is not fenced, the visit is free and can be made without a guide. There are guards who can explain the archaeological remains to you and who, logically, will ask for a tip.
In addition to the wonderful views over Larache, the meanders of the river, the marshes and the salt flats, the ruins of the temple, the thermal baths, the amphitheatre and the salting factories are also worth seeing.
In Lixus they produced salted fish and garum, a sauce made from small fish and tuna entrails, which, according to the inhabitants of ancient Rome, was an aphrodisiac.
From my point of view, Larache is a good option, for example, if you are in Asilah and decide to spend the day in another city. At lunchtime, you can find restaurants in the area of the promenade and Liberation Square, with affordable prices and usually good fish. Also in the port area there are stalls where you can eat grilled sardines.