Morocco’s Tourist and Travel Getaway
Near the still Spanish-influenced towns of Asilah and Tangier, Larache is a relaxed getaway, especially in the summer months when Moroccan tourists flock to the Loucos River to enjoy late-afternoon picnics. Roman ruins can also be found here and are second only to Volubilis. They are known as the ruins of Lixus and are the remnants of the famed Garden of Hesperides.
While the town doesn’t get as much current focus as Asilah and Tangier, the streets are still worth a half-day gallivant and beaches to the north offer seclusion, especially in the July and August when beaches, such as Paradise Beach, are packed with European tourists and Moroccans alike. Larache was once a part of the Spanish’s northern territory in Morocco. Since the Spanish picked and chose what areas of the north they would claim, Larache was one obvious choice, namely because of its prime location along the Atlantic. Here, Spanish port workers and Moroccan laborers of yesteryear would work loading ships full of goods from Morocco, or unloading goods to trade from South America or the Spanish mainland. For nearly thirty years, the Spanish built an infrastructure that remains, and much of their colonial-style homes are now restaurants, hotels, or bed & breakfasts.
Once known as the Plaza de Espana, the center of town is now referred to the commonly used title, Place de la Liberation. Historically, Larache was overshadowed by Tangier as an international hodgepodge of the European, British, and American elite. However, many foreigners found Larache to be calmer, safer, and the people much friendlier than the once famous international territory. An old Spanish cemetery can still be accessed where several well-known international personalities are buried, including writers and even film stars.
Scholars point out that Larache would have been a much more prominent port than Tangier had it not been for the offshore sand bars that deterred many a ship from entering its bay. For trade, it was closer to Rabat, Casablanca, Meknes, and Fez. Instead, the workers of the area designed ships that would be taken to Tangier or other cities along the coastline. The aftermath of their plundering the nearby forests can still be seen today, even though much of what is left is protected.
Exploring the decrepit medina is surprisingly worthwhile. The small, cool area hasn’t been restored like greater medinas, such as in Fez, but all the tracks seem to lead down towards the port, where all the action once took and still does take place. Travelers can access the medina from Bab el Khemis, and the market area deserves some attention. In the 1600s, the Spanish built a grand archway over the market that can still be appreciated.
Overall, Larache offers a relaxing atmosphere where women travelers won’t have to worry as much about hassle as other places in the country. The beaches, past the port and the rocky sections, are pristine, lined with restaurants and shady areas to enjoy the day. If you don’t feel like walking out there, buses and taxis abound. Larache may not be a hidden gem, per se, but it is one town in Morocco that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. For those wanting a day to relax away from the throngs in Tangier, Larache might be one of the best choices along Morocco’s northern coast.