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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

The Moroccan mural town of Asilah is an artistic wonderland

Updated: Jan 23

From 1978 Asilah in northern Africa has hosted an annual International Cultural Moussem of Asilah, held each year in August. This festival draws together writers, painters, musicians, dancers and artists from around the world to this seaside town. There are also concerts, exhibits and workshops held during the month.

a large mural with a blue sky showing the white walls and rampart of the medina of Asilah. a man and woman in cartoon style wearing red gowns and red hats stand with a yellow cat. Their arms are raised in greeting.

The whitewashed walls around town become canvases for intriguing murals of all designs, both artistic and geometric. Just before the festival, the walls are whitewashed. Once the murals are painted, they stay on the walls until it is time to whitewash them again for the next year. The good thing about this, is that they are visible all year long, not just during the festival.

on a white wall are five very bright tall sticks, like pencils, but cartooned as humans. the windows are yes, the roof is hair. each is a different colour of walled house, yellow, orange, pink, blue and green

With no set path to follow, just walk around the various labyrinth of streets in this old medina and the wall murals can be seen in various places. The murals are subject to the interpretation of the viewer. Some are fascinating as you stand there and work out your own idea of what the message is behind the paint, or even if there is one. I heard one observer remark that they wished there was a guidebook explaining what each painting meant. While that would be one way of looking at it, art is different for every individual. Making sense or no sense of it, makes us wonder and put our own slant on it. I am not sure which way would be better, I just know I prefer the latter.

on a whitewashed wall is a painted mural. two thirds of the upper mural is a plain blue sky, the bottom third is green for grass. a large tree grows from the ground and takes up the right quarter of the mural. the outline of five people with hands in the air are in the bottom left. Each one is a different colour, yellow, red, brown, pink and orange. a sun blazes in the top left hand corner

There is also the beauty that these works are only temporary. Once the festival rolls around, what is left of the work will be painted over and new works created for the next twelve months. These ever-changing canvases also teach us that things are temporary, and we need to enjoy them while we can.

a giant wall mural with geometric shapes has two eyes painted lifelife looking forward.
on a white wall are three rows of seven tiles. each one has a painting of a differently decorated hand.
on a whitewashed wall is a large mural of a sleeping bearded man next to an old fashioned film projector, standing on a table. The film coming form the projector is shapes of blue, white and green lines

I have a true fascination for decorated and unusual doors. The doors in Asilah are works of art in themselves.

a green door in a white wall. The top is arched, like a moorish design. Geometric green tiles form a pattern on either side of the door, and potplants are scattered around the stoop.

Every now and then you find a double bonus, a door that is also a mural. This decorated door is right next to the rampart overlooking the ocean. So apt with its ocean themed design.

on a whitewashed wall surrounding a black door are an array of tiles. In an outer circle are hands. in the circle are seashells, birds, leaves, seahorses, moon, make and female symbols. Some circles spread out from the out hands, like planets in the solar system

When visiting Morocco, make sure that Asilah is on your itinerary, even if just for one day.

Enjoy this Moroccan mural town.

map of Morocco with a dot where the town of Asilah is located

Happy Travels!

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