Larache, Morocco Guide
Larache (Arabic: العرائش (Leɛrayech), Berber: ⴰⵄⵔⵉⵛ (Aɛrich)) is a Moroccan city of white houses on a rocky hillside by the Atlantic Ocean, on the left bank of the mouth of the Lucus River. The province of Larache, with 500,000 inhabitants, includes the city of Ksar-el-Kébir, the Upper Lucus region and the Beni Aros mountains. The capital of the province of Larache, in the region of Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceïma, located about 86 kilometers south of Tangier.
Tourist interest of Larache (Morocco)
Larache has a historical and cultural interest, especially for the Spanish, for the history and influence of Spain in the past, in the fields of economy, architecture, industry, population, etc..
The Phoenician-Roman ruins of Lixus, with a castle and salting factories, are a must for lovers of archeology and ancient history.
A French court was established here in the 20th century with the figure of the Duchess of Guisa, wife of the Count of Paris, of the Capetian house of Orleans, pretender to the French crown. The couple did not reside permanently in Larache; their stays alternated between the Moroccan city and other European countries. Their residence has been preserved and transformed into a hotel.
The medina, although poorly preserved, is worth seeing, with the Liberation Square and the Alcaicería. Do not forget to visit its two castles, the Castle of Kelibach, in ruins, by the sea, and the Castle of the Storks, near the river.
The Spanish town has the appearance of an Andalusian village, with interesting buildings in traditional and Art Nouveau style. The church of Nuestra Señora del Pilar stands out for its architecture.
The Balcón del Atlántico, as the promenade is known, offers spectacular views. It is interesting for sun and beach lovers, as it has long stretches of sand overlooking the ocean. The most popular beach is the one on the other side of town, which can be reached by boat.
Also of note is the Port Lixus development project north of town, which includes a golf course. The marina, hotels and apartments are still under construction.
For fish lovers, there are many popular restaurants in the city where you can enjoy this fresh product. Larache is also known for its melons, tomatoes, oranges, peanuts and strawberries.
WHAT TO SEE IN LARACHE
1. THE MEDINA OF LARACHE
The main access is through Mohamed V Avenue. At the end of this avenue is the Liberation Square, the nerve center of the city, where the old medina and the widening of the city meet. With its steep and variegated topography, its houses with white walls and sky blue carpentry, it requires maintenance and improvements to be able to welcome tourists.
Entering the Liberation Square, you will pass through the beautiful Bab Barra or Medina gate, built during the Spanish protectorate. Through this door leads to an arcaded square, the Alcaicera (eighteenth century) or small souk, the center of the souk and former parade ground. It is dominated by the Great Mosque. Today, the souk sells second-hand goods.
To the left of the Alcaicería is the 18th century Madrasa of the small souk, a former “fondac” with a large interior terrace.
The Kélibat quarter
Next to the Madrasa of the Small Souk is the gate of the Kélibat quarter (19th century) and the street of the Hospital, which leads to the castle of the same name, built in the 16th century by the Saadies.
If we head north from the small souk towards the port, the streets descend steeply and surround the Great Mosque. Following the course of the river, we reach the old Sea Gate, which gives access to the current Jardin de la Tour, a former pier where the Zaouïa Nasria Mosque (18th century) and, beyond, the Mesbaniya Mosque (17th-19th centuries) are located.
Leaving the small souk to the east, you will pass by the walls of the old wall of the Alcazaba, the Nasaria Mosque (18th century), the old Jewish quarter, with its beautiful houses with large balconies, poorly maintained. You leave the port through the gate of the pier, outside the medina. Do not miss a visit to the arsenal of the eighteenth century, still in use today.
To the right of the small souk is the 15th century Alcazaba gate with its fountains and, not far away, the souk of the poor with fruits and vegetables. Continuing along the famous Alcazaba street we pass the small square and the mosque of Anwar, from the fifteenth and twentieth centuries, with a large octagonal minaret. Next to this mosque is the marabout of Abd el Krim Al Bacuri (XVIII century).
You leave the Alcazaba through the gate that leads to the Plaza del Majzen next to the Alcazar of the fifteenth century. From here there is a splendid view of the port, the estuary and the hill of Lixus.
Around the square there are several buildings: the primitive Alcazar with its clock tower, neo-Arabic style; the former military commandery, now a music conservatory; and next to this building, the castle of the Stork, Laqaliq, from the sixteenth century, built by the Saadies and surrounded by the public garden of the Hesperides.
Opposite these buildings and on the edge of the hill overlooking the harbor is the small Jewish tower of the fifteenth century, an ancient defensive tower with the coat of arms of the dynasty of the House of Austria. Today it houses an Archaeological Museum and at its foot is the Tower Garden, which extends to the ramparts.
beaches of larache
The beaches of Larache are open to the ocean and face west. They are mostly sandy with waves, ideal for surfing.
Loukkous beach is the safest for families. The winds from the east or from the land are very intense and warm. In summer, the sea winds predominate and the evening winds are more humid and lift the waves.
On the other side of the river, across the harbor, on the edge of the Loukkous, is the beach of the Ria, a small beach with some reefs, protected from the waves and frequented by families.
To the north, behind the port breakwater, is the magnificent beach of Larache, also called Dangerous or Ras Ramel. It stretches several kilometers from the port to the promontory of Pointe Noire.
Next, we find the new urbanization of Port Lixus, which follows the coast with beaches for several kilometers. It is a clear sandy beach, open, swollen and dangerous, very popular in summer. There are only lifeguards and parking, so you will need to bring food and drink. It can be reached by boat from the port or by car by crossing the river (10 km) on the road to Tangier, bypassing the access to Port Lixus.
Beach of Port Lixus
It belongs to the village of Jemis de Sahel, on the national road to Tangier. Port Lixus is the beach of the new luxury development under construction. The access to the beach will be only for the users of the complex.
This complex has a golf club and villas, apartments and a future marina, hotels, equestrian facilities, etc.. It is a dangerous beach, open, with currents and waves.
To the north, the coast continues with the wild beach of Sidi Abrahim, which is accessed by roads from the village of Jemis de Sahel.
Beaches north of Larache
Wild, undeveloped and with poor access.
Continuing north on the national road from Tangier, you reach the village of Tenin de Sidi Yamani, near the wild beach of Sidi Bousibak, between the dunes and a Mediterranean forest of oaks and cork oaks. It can be reached by unmarked tracks starting from the former barracks of the Spanish Legion, El Krindah, 3.6 km after the village of Jemis de Sahel.
North of this beach, at the mouth of a small wadi and surrounded by dunes, is the beach of Redda, which continues with the beach of Sidi Mgait, which is reached from the road to Rabat, by Douar Amina 10 km before reaching Asilah.
Beaches south of Larache
South of the city, the coast is high and jagged for several kilometers. The few beaches are wild and without access. In the village of Douar de Oued Skar, there is a large area of ancient dunes ending in a beach with cliffs, called Sauvage by the inhabitants of nearby villages and Ksar Kebir. It can be reached from Ouamara, on the road from Larache to Alcazarquivir.
By the Rabat highway, we find this agricultural, fishing and tourist town, only 45 kilometers from Larache. Known for its endless beaches, with dunes and open to the ocean, which are almost always stormy.
A place known for surfing.
Where to eat in Larache
Restaurants in Larache
Larache offers limited cuisine. There are restaurants in the Liberation Square and in the promenade area. They are quite popular, moderately priced and have good fish. Especially the Casa de Arte La Solea, which offers Moroccan and Spanish dishes.
On Mohamed V street, Khozama, a fish restaurant, stands out. There are also fast food restaurants and pizzerias, etc..
At the Casa de España and the Somarian Hotel, Señor Mula restaurants are located next to the market. Excellent quality fish and seafood that can be enjoyed with alcohol.
At the entrance of the Spanish extension is the popular Kaid Hamed restaurant. Spacious and lively, you can order all kinds of Moroccan dishes, salads and fish. Fast and cheap.
But in the Spanish style stand out the restaurants Estrella del Mar and Pescador.
In the port area there are many popular restaurants offering fresh fish, grilled sardines, etc., although the atmosphere is usually not very clean.
The Loukous restaurant is well known.
On the Atlantic Balcony there are some wonderful cafes. With great views, clean and offering excellent ice cream, tea, coffee and sweet and savory pastries, with the option to sit outside.
In the shopping area, we recommend Ben Abdellah and Zerktouini streets, with lots of atmosphere in the afternoon and evening. There are cafes where they prepare wonderful mixed juices.
For breakfast we recommend the churros in the arcades of the square, or under the garden of the Hesperides the cafeteria Las Palmeras.
For tea and coffee, we recommend the traditional Café Lucus, in the Plaza de la Liberación, in front of the Medina.
A visit to the market to taste the fresh Lucus oranges is highly recommended.
View of the port of Larache around 1670.
Near Larache are the ruins of Lixus, a Carthaginian and Roman port on the other side of the Loukkos river. In the late Middle Ages, Larache was founded as a result of the Arab conquest.
Portuguese documents from the 15th century mention Larache as the main port of Morocco[ref]. But in 1491 the Portuguese of Assilah and Tangier depopulated the city, which remained empty until it was taken by the Sultan of Fez[ref], Mohamed es Said ech Sheik, who built a fortress under the Loukkos River and fortified the port.
For a long time, attempts to conquer the city by the Portuguese, Spanish and French failed. The Kasbah, built in 1491, became a fortress for pirates. Finally, the Spanish obtained the city in 1610, holding it until 16891. Moulay Ismail recovered it in 1689. In 1765, as part of the fight against the barbarian corsairs, a French fleet under the command of Admiral Du Chaffault bombarded the city, followed by a landing attempt, which was short-lived after the death and capture of many French sailors by the Moroccans.
From 1911 to 1956, Larache was still part of the Spanish Moroccan protectorate.
Small coat of arms of Larache The coat of arms of the city of Larache is blazoned as follows: “Gules fretted argent à un canon argent accompagné d’un orle de vert. The coat of arms is stamped with the Moroccan royal crown. Great coat of arms of the city of Larache
The province of Larache was created on October 14, 1985 and is part of the administrative region of Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima.
The province of Larache is bordered to the north by the province of Tetouan and the province of Tangier-Asila, to the south by the province of Kenitra, to the east by the province of Chefchaouen and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean.
The city of Larache is served by the A1 highway (linking Tangier to Rabat) and is therefore located about 79 km from Tangier’s Ibn Battouta international airport and 168 km from the capital, Rabat.
From the relief point of view, the province of Larache is characterized by
a mountainous zone that constitutes the western extension of the Rifian chain, and of Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceïma located mainly in the rural communes of Béni-Arous, Zaaroura, Tazrout and Béni-Gorfet.
The marshy hills surrounding a low marshy plain.
Along the coast, a string of fixed dunes forms the R’mel plateaus.
Inland and to the south, plains whose altitude varies between 3 and 8 m (10 and 26 ft).
The province of Larache has a Mediterranean oceanic climate characterized by an alternating cool, wet season from October to April and a fairly warm, dry season from June to September.
Average annual rainfall varies between 700 and 1100 mm and is almost entirely concentrated between October and May. It is one of the wettest cities in Morocco and the Maghreb thanks to frequent Atlantic disturbances in autumn, winter and early spring.
Temperatures vary between 7°C in cold periods and 29°C in hot periods (rare frosts can occur in winter and rare heat waves in summer).
The hydrographic network of the province includes the Loukkos wadi and its tributaries, the R’mel water table, the Oued El Makhazine dam, the Loukkos guard dam, three hillside lakes, as well as numerous springs.
The province of Larache covers an area of approximately 2,783 km2.
Today, numerous neighborhoods have appeared on the outskirts of the city. The largest under construction at the moment is undoubtedly the neighborhood of Almaghrib Aljadid (in French, Le nouveau Maroc).
Population of the province
According to the 2004 General Population and Housing Census, the population of the province is 472,386 inhabitants, of which 219,577 live in the municipalities and urban centers and 252,809 in the rural municipalities. Thus, the urbanization rate is 46.5%.
The number of households counted was 89,944, of which 46,848 were urban households and 43,096 were rural. Thus, urban households represent 52.08% of all households in the province.
The average density is 170 inhabitants per square kilometer.
The communal and administrative division of the Province is composed of
2 urban municipalities: Larache and Ksar El Kébir.
17 rural communes
2 pashaliks :
Larache with 7 districts
Ksar El Kébir with 4 districts.
3 circles: Larache with 3 caïdats
The city of Larache remains very open to Spanish culture. The province of Larache has hundreds of associations in various sectors of activity: development, culture, environment, social, neighborhood associations. In the city of Larache alone there are more than three hundred associations, but only about ten are active, such as the Lixus Foundation for the Arts and Sustainable Development (FLADD), the Association of Moroccan Writers in the Spanish Language (AEMLE), the DECOL Association, the ECODEL Association, Acharif al-Idrissi, Larache al-Mada, Arrisala, the Lixa Theater Company, the Larache School Youth Association, the A. T.T, Espace des Jeunes sans Frontière J.E.S.A.F, Union Nationale des Étudiants marocains, Association Alkazabah pour l’environnement développement et coopération, etc.
Famous people (born, died, lived) in Larache
Marthe Franceschini, legitimate wife and first sultan of Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah, who died in Larache.
Jean Genet (1910-1986), French writer, who lived there for some time, is buried in the old Spanish cemetery of Larache.
A branch of the Orleans family settled in Larache in 1910 in the person of Jean d’Orleans, “Duke of Guisa”, who died in Larache. He ran an agricultural estate in the neighborhood. The family resided intermittently in Larache; the “Duchess of Guisa” ended her life there and died in 1961; her children, including the “Count of Paris”, spent part of their childhood or youth there.
Amina El Filali, a young woman whose suicide in 2012 provoked a political debate and the revision of article 475 of the Moroccan penal code.
Hassan Hajjaj, photographer and designer.
Morad (1999-), Spanish rapper from Larache.
Jacobo Azafrani (1932-2022), Moroccan footballer.
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