Essaouira, Top Destination in Morocco

Pictures of Essaouira, Morocco

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Streets of Essaouira, MoroccoStreets of Essaouira, MoroccoView to Essaouira from Skala de la Ville
Streets of Essaouira, Morocco
Streets of Essaouira, Morocco | Source
Streets of Essaouira, Morocco
Streets of Essaouira, Morocco | Source
View to Essaouira from Skala de la Ville
View to Essaouira from Skala de la Ville | Source

When people think about Morocco they immediately picture Marrakesh, big markets full of arts and crafts, terracotta mosques and Couscous; but after travelling in Morocco for a month I visited a few places that are not as famous as Marrakesh, which remain somewhat undiscovered by the masses and that represent a potentially rich cultural experience, quite an adventure! One of these travelling jewels is the picturesque and unique Essaouira.

The cities and towns of the coast of Morocco present a very different face from those of the interior because most of them were occupied or even founded by European powers, and this is reflected in their appearance and feel. Such is the case of Essaouira.


A Fortified Fishing Village in Morocco's Atlantic Coastline

Essaouira (pronounced esa-wera) is a South Atlantic coastal town with a relaxed atmosphere that is in complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of the big cities in Morocco like Marrakesh or Rabat.

The fortifications of the old city are a mixture of Portuguese, French and Berber military architecture, and their massiveness lends a powerful mystique to the town. It was the Portuguese who established a commercial and military bridgehead here towards the end of the 15th century, which they named Mogador. They lost it in 1541 and the coastal town subsequently fell into decline. Most of what stands today is the result of a curious experiment: In 1765 Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah hired a French architect, Théodore Cornut, to create a city suitable for foreign trade. The Sultan obviously liked what he saw since the town was renamed Essaouira, meaning “well-designed”. It quickly became an important commercial link between Timbuktu and Europe, trading European manufactured goods for sought-after commodities such as gold, salt, ivory and ostrich feathers.


Picturesque Essaouira

Water Seller, Essaouira, Morocco
Water Seller, Essaouira, Morocco | Source

Essaouira's Old City or Medina

Inside, the walled town is all light and charm. You will find narrow lanes, whitewashed houses with blue painted doors, tranquil squares, pleasant cafes and artisans in tiny workshops beavering away at fragrant thuya wood. Many Europeans and artists, enchanted by the place, have invested in medina (old city) properties and an arty, expat influence is evident throughout the town.

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Essaouira's Sea Bastion and Harbor

Heading north from Place Moulay Hassan you can gain access to the Skala de la Ville, the impressive sea bastion built along the cliffs. It is home to a collection of brass cannons from the 18th and 19th centuries and has great views out to sea. Locals and tourists alike gather here to watch the sun disappear over the horizon.

The snug fortified harbor, immediately southwest of the medina, is a hive of activity, with nets laid out on the quayside, fishing boats unloading their catch, traditional wooden boats being built and seafood sizzling on outdoor grills; the best cheap, fresh eats are precisely here, where you can take a look at a fabulous selection of the catch of the day and choose accordingly for a delicious al-fresco lunch.

The beautiful port, bustling with ship-builders and fishing boats is well worth a wander at any time, but try to catch the fish auction (3pm-5pm). It takes place in the market hall just outside the port gates.


Essaouira's Harbor

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Essaouira's Harbor with its many blue fishing boats. Morocco.Essaouira's Harbor with its many blue fishing boats. Morocco.Essaouira, Morocco.Fishermen going home with their catch. Essaouira Harbor, Morocco.Essaouira's Harbor at Sunset. Morocco.Essaouira's catch of the day. Morocco.
Essaouira's Harbor with its many blue fishing boats. Morocco.
Essaouira's Harbor with its many blue fishing boats. Morocco. | Source
Essaouira's Harbor with its many blue fishing boats. Morocco.
Essaouira's Harbor with its many blue fishing boats. Morocco. | Source
Essaouira, Morocco.
Essaouira, Morocco. | Source
Fishermen going home with their catch. Essaouira Harbor, Morocco.
Fishermen going home with their catch. Essaouira Harbor, Morocco. | Source
Essaouira's Harbor at Sunset. Morocco.
Essaouira's Harbor at Sunset. Morocco. | Source
Essaouira's catch of the day. Morocco.
Essaouira's catch of the day. Morocco. | Source

Other Essaouira's Highlights

All though my traveling companions (thanks Nin and Cesar!!) and I where there in December I reckon the best time to go for a complete holiday package is summer, when you can best enjoy the water sports possibilities, and specially mid June to catch Essaouira’s Music Festival.

Windsurfing, Kite-Surfing, Surfing
The beach stretches some 10Km down the coast to the sand dunes of Cap Sim; it is windy and has currents but it is excellent for windsurfing.

Essaouira Festival
Essaouira Festival is a four day musical extravaganza usually held around the third weekend in June. Concerts take place on Place Moulay Hassan and at other venues throughout the town. International, national and local performers provide music ranging from Moroccan music to jazz and there are simultaneous art exhibitions.


Map of Morocco, Africa

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A markerEssaouira -
Essaouira, Morocco
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http://hubpages.com/_1fclx5rkjd1r/hub/ESSAOUIRA-Top-Destination-in-Morocco

B markerMarrakesh -
Marrakesh, Morocco
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http://hubpages.com/_1fclx5rkjd1r/hub/Marrakesh-a-Most-in-Morocco

C markerRabat -
Rabat, Morocco's Capital
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http://hubpages.com/_1fclx5rkjd1r/hub/Cosmopolitan-Cities-of-Morocco-Casablanca-Rabat-Tangier

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Comments on "Essaouira, Top Destination in Morocco" 5 comments

Vandeera 5 years ago

Looks like it would be a lovely place to vist.


Claudia 5 years ago

Indeed it is, I recommend it.


rajesh khanal profile image

rajesh khanal 5 years ago from nepal

I wanna be there but it's impossible for me now i will try my best to visit over there.


travelholidays profile image

travelholidays 3 years ago from India

Hi Claudia ,

Again it's me. Your hubs about morocco are really outstanding, make me to read all your articles. I like this place 'Essaouira'. Many thanks for sharing this :)


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Claudia Tello 3 years ago from Mexico Author

Travelholidays,

Hey! It´s a pleasure to have you back :). I am very pleased and happy to hear you enjoyed my hubs on Morocco. Thanks a lot for your comments, I really appreciate them.

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