Online Encyclopedia

LARAISH (El Araish)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 209 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LARAISH (El Araish), a port in northern Morocco on the Atlantic coast in 350 13' N., 6° 9 W., 43 M. by sea S. by W. of Tangier, picturesquely situated on the left bank of the estuary of the Wad Lekkus. Pop. 6000 to 7000. The river, being fairly deep inside the bar, made this a favourite port for the Salli rovers to winter in, but the quantity of alluvial soil brought down threatens to close the port. The town is well situated for defence, its walls are in fair condition, and it has ten forts, all supplied with old-fashioned guns. Traces of the Spanish occupation from 1610–1689 are to be seen in the towers whose names are given by Tissot as those of St Stephen, St James and that of the Jews, with the Castle of Our Lady of Europe, now the kasbah or citadel. The most remarkable feature of Laraish is its fine large market-place inside the town with a low colonnade in front of very small shops. The streets, though narrow and steep, are generally paved. Its chief exports are oranges, millet, dra and other cereals, goat-hair and skins, sheepskins, wool and fullers' earth. The wool goes chiefly to Marseilles. The annual value of the trade is from £400,000 to £500,000. In 178o all the Europeans in Laraish were expelled by Mohammed XVI., although in 1786 the monopoly of its trade had been granted to Holland, even its export of wheat. In 1787 the Moors were still building pirate vessels here, the timber for which came from the neighbouring forest of M'amora. Not far from the town are the remains of what is believed to be a Phoenician city, Shammish, mentioned by Idrisi, who makes no allusion to Laraish. It is not, however, improbable from a passage in Scylax that the site of the present town was occupied by a Libyan settlement. 'Tradition also connects Laraish with the garden of the Hesperides, `Ariisi being the Arabic for " pleasure-gardens," and the " golden apples " perhaps the familiar oranges.
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