Essaouira Travel Guide
Although Mogador, now known as Essaouira, has been inhabited since prehistoric times, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the actual city of Essaouira was built. However, being considered one of the best anchorages of the Moroccan coast, the 5th century B.C. brought with it the establishment of a trading post. About 500 to 600 years later, a Tyrian purple factory was established by Juba II for the processing of murex and pupura shells that could be found throughout the intertidal rocks located in Essaouira. The purple dye that was created at the factory was used to color the purple stripe found on Imperial Roman Senatorial Togas.
Skipping ahead to the 15th century to add more to an already amazing history, the King of Portugal order the “Castelo Real de Mogador” fortress built. Following the building of the fortress, Mogador, or Essaouira, was also occupied by the French and British in which a trading center was established. The 16th century saw the powers of many nations attempt to conquer the area, but it remained a major exporter of sugar molasses and an anchoring location for pirates. Not until 1760 when French architect Cornut planned an actual town did the late 18th century see a beautiful town with narrow labyrinth streets displaying a mixture of Moroccan and French architecture that complies with the principals set for by contemporary European military architecture.
Places to Visit
The Essaouira Festival takes place every June and there are plenty of places to go such as wood workshops, the beach, the port, Skala de la Ville that was once used to defend the harbor area and contains wondrous views, North Bastion, the small berber village of Diabat, and the Bordj el Berod which is the castle that inspired Jimi Hendrix’s axis Bold as Love.
As for places to stay in Essaouira, there are Riads, which are either a traditional Moroccan house or a palace containing an interior garden. The Riad Darness and the Riad Marosko are amongst the many places to stay when visiting Essaouira. Also when visiting, one must try out the excellent local dishes such as La Licorne (26 Rue Scala), Restaurant La Petite Perle d’ Essaouira (2 Rue El Hajjali), and Chalet de la plage (BD Mohammed V). That is the perfect dining experience before or after catching one of the windsurfing or kitesurfing contests that Essaouira is known for.
Did You Know?
Essaouira hosts a large Jewish community. In fact, Mellah is the Jewish quarter of Essaouira.
Is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed city as an example of a late 18th century fortified town, as transferred to North Africa.
The shopping, the art, the architecture, the history and the culture that is unique to Essaouira makes for a wonderful tourist experience. Whether taking one of Essaouira’s buses or taxies to do things such as buy antiques, fossils, or paintings or perhaps experience the wonderful food and activities Essaouira has to offer, it is easy to observe its beauty and appreciate everything that it has to offer everyone who enters. In fact, it is so rich in cultural heritage and elegant beauty, you may find it difficult to leave upon arriving.
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