Situated near the Oued Loukos, one the major rivers crossing the region, Ksar El Kebir is a thousand-year-old town founded by the Phoenicians. In the Roman era, it became part of the province of Mauritania Tingitana. It was the site of the Battle of the Three Kings, the last crusade undertaken by Portugal to conquer Morocco. Moroccan troops confronted the pretender to the Alaouite throne, who was supported by the troops of Sebastian I of Portugal. The battle resulted in victory for Morocco but also the death of three kings, including the Portuguese monarch who had no successor. This led to the annexation of the Portuguese crown by Spain for more than 60 years.
Ksar El Kebir is today the capital of an agricultural region, among the most important in northern Morocco.
Among the numerous sights to see is the Great Mosque in Bab El Oued, founded by the Almohad dynasty in the twelfth century and whose minaret was built reusing Roman and Byzantine materials. Beside it is the Kasbah of Ghailan and the barracks for his troops, as well as the ancient mellah (Jewish quarter) and the Sultan fondouk.
A visit to the Maison des R'miki is obligatory as the house has beautiful, carved wooden ceilings and its gardens are sumptuous. Follow it by seeing the zaouia of Sidi Kacem; the marabouts (local saints' shrines) including those of Sidi Rais, Abdellah Ben Mohamed and Lalla Fatma Andalusiya; the kassariat (old shopping arcade) as well as the Saida and Hacemiri mosques. This last was an ancient zaouia, transformed into a mosque in 1889.
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Ksar El Kebir is a great alternative as a day trip from Tangier or Tetouan. It's also a good place to stop on a trip between Tangier and Rabat. It is very interesting to visit the town's market which is held every Sunday.