Fort Al Kabibat        

Larache, Morocco                
The city of Lixus in Morocco was settled by the Phonicians in the 7th century BC, on the right bank of the Lukkos River. Shortly thereafter, a group of Muslim soldiers extended their camp at Lixus to the other side of the river, and Larache was born.

In 1471 Portuguese settlers drove the inhabitants of Larache away from the area, assumedly wishing unfettered access to the lovely port there. Larache was considered Portugal's largest port in Morocco in the 15th century. The Portuguese didn't seem to care much about the city itself, and Larache was repopulated at the command of one of the Saadi Sultans, who built a fortress on the high ground at the mouth of the river, overlooking and controlling the harbor and access to the river.

Portugal and Spain bashed on Larache for the next century, without successfully wresting it from Muslim hands. By 1610, however, Spain managed to capture the town. The Spanish stayed until 1689, during which time I'm guessing Fort Al Kabibat was built (specific information on who built the fort and when seems pretty sparse out there!), although surely it had a Spanishy name involving some saint or another. Again, Spain was interested in the port and not the town, and in 1689 both of them were retaken by Moroccan warrior king Moulay Ismail Ibn Sharif (1645?-1727).

By the 18th century much of the coast of Morocco was a stronghold of Barbary pirates, who took advantage of the chaos caused by the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) by stepping up their attacks on European shipping. Once able to concentrate their forces after the end of the war, the French Navy mounted a punitive expedition along the Moroccan Coast in 1765, bombarding various points of interest and generally trying to unpirate the area. A naval force commanded by Duchaffault de Besne (1708-1794), made up of the 52-gun ship Utile and fifteen frigates, xebecs and galliots, arrived at Larache on June 26 1765. The French bombarded Larache for the next two days, causing the town to be evacuated, and sent several hundred sailors ashore in small boats to burn what they assumed were pirate ships in the harbor. The Moroccans managed to encircle much of this landing party, killing some 200 sailors and capturing 48, all of whom were enslaved. The French defeat at Larache ended the campaign, and a peace treaty betwixt France and Morocco was signed in 1767.

Spain responded to losing the Spanish-American War (1898) by pushing what weight it had left around in Africa. By 1912 Spain was in control of the parts of Morocco that France wasn't interested in controlling...Larache and its cool fort were back in the hands of the Spanish. Anti-colonial sentiment predictably followed, and when France exiled Morocco's popular Sultan Mohammed V (1909-1961) in 1953, replacing him with some other dork, popular sentiment on the issue became explosive. The Sultan was allowed to return, and by 1956 Morocco was an independent nation.

Today, Fort Al Kabibat is poularly known as Stork's Castle. It is well-maintained and serves as a public park, where Larache's "young and beautiful" are wont to hang out.

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Fort Al Kabibat?
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Thanks to Google Maps for the image!