People (the Phoenicians and later the Romans) lived here in the 7th century B.C. The area of Essaouira was popularly called “purple islands” – something to do with the seashells, which were mined off the coast of the city. The island of Mogador also belongs to the territory of the city – so, incidentally, the entire city before the recognition of the independence of Morocco. Around the island, you can take a boat ride, but in general there is nothing of interest, except for the many flocks of seagulls inhabiting the small earth. “Essaouira” is pronounced in Russian, and it is very similar to the way the town’s name sounds in Arabic, whereas in other languages the town’s name sounds like “Esauira.
From a famous port the city became at the same time a staging post for caravans, and even later – a haven for sea pirates. That is why the town is called the “pirate town”.
The prosperity of the city occurred at the beginning of the 16th century, when it began to be fortified by the Portuguese. Generally, there were plans to develop the city into the largest seaport, and everything was going to until the intervention of the French, who blocked the trade routes at the end of the 19th century, and the glory of the trading center began to fade.
The other heyday of the city was in the 1960s, when suddenly Essaouira became a center for hippies from all over the world. And fans of Jimmy Hendrix, the great American guitarist and composer, like to flock here. He lived here in the ’60s and wrote songs here, inspired by the beauty of the city.
Today, Essaouira is a beautiful resort and is very much appreciated by Europeans and the people of Morocco in the larger cities. A lot of people are here especially during the festival of gnahua music. This festival has been taking place since 1998. Gnahua is a searing blend of African, Berber and Arabic religious melodies and rhythms. That is, it is both music and acrobatic dancing, a kind of prayer.
The city is very beautiful, and some directors have even used the buildings and streets of the city as a backdrop for their films (for example, in 1952 director Orson Welles filmed his film “Othello” here. He also filmed it in El Jadida). And 10 years ago a movie “The Kingdom of Heaven” was filmed here, and in a small town they recreated the setting of medieval Jerusalem. Just step out of the way, solid scenery! And not for nothing, because the city is really beautiful! In Essaouira, there are three main areas – Arab, European and Jewish.
In the port there used to stop big ships and was an active trade – today you can see there small fishing boats, fishing boats and yachts.
Fishing is very well developed here, so tourists are very lucky – they can taste all kinds of fish, but the prices can be quite high. Yes, and do not pay attention to the way they cook your fish, it’s completely unsanitary. It’s better to turn around and enjoy the dish. Who doesn’t risk…. By the way, almost all the boats here are painted blue.
In general, the city is very beautiful. It’s like the name translates to “beautifully drawn”. And it’s also beautifully built. The people here live a little, about 40 thousand, and European tourists just adore and worship it, and drove here in droves!
The city is surrounded by a wall, the port can be accessed through a gate guarded by 18th-century cannons.
The fortress wall offers a truly magnificent view of the town. In the town, be sure to check out the shops of local merchants who sell goods made of lemon wood, decorated with silver and mother-of-pearl jewelry.
An interesting place in town is the slave market. It has been preserved from ancient times almost intact. This is where the captive Africans were gathered for shipment to the other side of the Atlantic. Both sad and interesting.
Beach holidays in Essaouira, too, beach area stretches as much as 6 kilometers!
On the beach you can meet local young people, who quietly play soccer from morning till night. And since there are great winds on the coast, the waves are nice here – a free-for-all for windsurfing fans. By the way, there are two surf centers in town: Fanatic and Club Mistral. Rent equipment for a week you will cost about 180 euros. Surfers can be advised to skate on the beaches of Essaouira Bay, Sidi Kauki, Cape Sim and Mulei Buzertun. And by the way, the coastal waters of this town host international competitions in these sports.
Be sure to visit Kasbah d’Essaouira.
It is probably one of the main attractions of the resort. The fortress was built in the mid-18th century, and then the fortress was also called Essaouira. However, in the 12th of the last century, the French renamed the fortress to Mogador, then in the 56th year, it was renamed back to Suveira. From hand to hand, as they say.
The fortress with walls with strong merlons was supposed to protect the town from the attacks of pirates, who often “fell” from the sea. From the outside the fortress walls are similar to the usual European fortifications, but inside everything meets the standards of Muslim architecture. The fort consists of two fortifications (bastions) – in the south and in the north.
The North Bastion is most impressive, especially its 200-meter platform with ancient Spanish cannons. The views from here are spectacular. That’s where we filmed Othello, about which I wrote above.
Be sure to visit the Medina, it’s a very beautiful part of Essaouira.
By the way, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check out the Sidi Mohammed Ben-Abdallah Museum (Treasury of Local Art) and stroll through the streets of white houses with bright blue windows. It takes about half a day to explore this town, but it’s great to see the sunset here – it’s so beautiful! If you are coming from Marrakech, Essaouira is a haven of tranquility. It is very nice and cozy. Even the street animals are fluffy and quiet, again, compared to Marrakech.
The vendors on the streets are not intrusive, the prices of goods are quite low, even haggling is somehow embarrassing. That’s it. Everyone to Essaouira!.