Built based on the principle of the European military architecture, Essaouira is an exceptional city, west of the Moroccan region of Marrakech-Asfi. The city bursts with numerous entrepreneurs, sharing its culture and diversity with the rest of the World.
Ever since its foundation, it has been a major international trading seaport, thanks to the Atlantic coast. It also serves as a link between Morocco, Europe, and the rest of the world.
The bright and gleaming city of Essaouira provides a picturesque port and a wide breezy beach that offers a magnificent view. In the present day, the city blossoms, serving as a beautiful example of a unique well maintained mid-18th century secure seaport town.
Origin of the name Essaouira
In the Latin script, the name of the city is spelled as Essaouira, but in Arabic script, it is spelled as الصويرة. However, in Moroccan Arabic both spellings are used, thus s-Swirl. In the name, the noun Sur means wall.
In the Berber language, which is largely spoken in the city, the town is well known as Tassort, which means a small fortress. This name was used for a while before the official name, Essaouira, came to light.
On the other hand, the Portuguese knew it as Mogador, but all this changed in by the 1960s. Essaouira became the official name of the city.
Essaouira Historical Background
Based on Archaeological research, the city is said to have been occupied ever since prehistoric times. Sheltered by the Mogador Island, its port provides a suitable harbor fortified from strong marine winds. By 19th century Essaouira was the first seaport in Morocco, operating with trading volumes twice that of Rabat.
The city also functioned as a harbor for Marrakesh. But in 1844 the town was bombarded and briefly occupied by the French Navy which was under the rule of Prince de Joinville. Under the French protectorate, Mogador was the military base and the place for all French major operations. Generally, France had a significant contribution to Essaouira economically and administratively. In recent years, this location has been a sanctuary for most film directors, due is the photogenic and outstanding atmosphere. It was even included in some episodes of the Game of Thrones.
Culture and Way of Life at Essaouira
As a city full of extraordinary arts and an exciting way of life, Essaouira has several art galleries, with a beautiful Medina. the Gnaoua Festival of World Music takes place in the city usually during the last week of June. Artists playing all genres of music, including reggae, jazz, and even rock come to this festival, sharing music from all over the world.
Known as the Moroccan Woodstock, the festival has been active since 1998, taking up to four days with over 400,000 spectators. Given that the place is crowded, keep your personal belongings safe and hidden from pickpockets.
Places to Visit in Essaouira
Essaouira boasts a beautiful location to relax and enjoy numerous sites. Here are some places you must visit during your stay in Essaouira.
The defensive walls of the castle share a historical experience to any visitor. The Ramparts of Essaouira are very attractive, and the best part is that you get to see the cannons which are still remarkably intact. Here, you can take the best photos to share beautiful memories with family and friends.
The Sidi Mohamad Ben Abdellah Museum
Named after the founder of the city, Sidi Mohamad Ben Abdellad, the Museum has numerous Historical arts, from historical artifacts to ancient pottery and jewelry. The location shares the city's rich history with more descriptions of the Berber culture on rituals and traditions.
The Traditional Souk
Given that you are in Morocco, you should take your time to visit the traditional Souk. The Essaouira's traditional Souk sparkles with color, and the smell of conventional clothes fills the air. This is also a perfect opportunity for you to grab a souvenir and enjoy the enchanting culture of the Moroccans.
Engaging in water sports
If you are more into games, then Essaouira has got you covered. Thanks to the strong winds experienced throughout the year, you can enjoy windsurfing and kite surfing water sports.
Ideally, there are numerous surfing schools and windsurfing schools where you can get all the skills you need to enjoy these sports, so you don't have to worry if you have never engaged in these activities.
Galerie la Kasbah
If you are more into fine art and outstanding creativity, then it would be best if you visited the Galerie la Kasbah in Essaouira. The gallery offers a prestigious art show for different forms of art. It does well for loves of Sculptures, pottery, Zelligs and not forgetting Furniture. You will also come across art from over 20 artists who dedicated their lives to making outstanding art upholding Morocco’s culture.
Essaouira is an eco-friendly resort
Essaouira is the ideal place for rest and enjoyment. The Mogador resort, located in 1,500 acres of forest along sand dunes, is like a lush green sea of vegetation plunging down into the ocean. To reach the four premium hotels or residential hamlets, go through the forest on the dry stone paths lit by an original, energy-efficient system. Nature is your friend throughout your holiday: the Jardins Filtrants (filtering gardens) recycle the water used to irrigate the gardens and golf courses.
Golf Saad Tazi Mogador
The ecological Mogador Golf Course is in a perfect natural setting, surrounded by dunes, forests, and the Atlantic Ocean. With its two 18-hole courses designed by Gary Player, it is fast becoming the leader of its kind. But golf is not the only sport on offer at Mogador, you can also enjoy tennis, squash, kite surfing, windsurfing, horse-riding and of course hiking around the Souss plain. Argan trees grow in this region, providing precious argan oil... that you can sample in the spa. Relax with your mind at rest: a special club is on hand to look after your children.
Golf de Mogador
Libraries, cafés, music studios, and a dance school: Mogador is where nature harmonizes with culture. In the town itself, why not visit the Sidi-Mohammed-Ben-Abdallah Museum, which focuses on Moroccan art or contemporary art galleries. The traditional culture of the Gnaoua people, descendants from slaves in Sub-Saharan Africa, will add to the mysticism and magic of your visit to Mogador.
Essaouira, the sister
A short trip over the dunes of Mogador will take you to Essaouira, where you will learn about its history and heritage. From the top of the ramparts, take in the proud Atlantic and the fishing port with boats returning home, heavy with their catch. From the Bab El Marse port, you will enter the medina, a Unesco World Heritage site, and meet the most celebrated marquetry inlayers and cabinetmakers in the kingdom. Just a few minutes from this hub of activity you are back to the tranquillity of your Garden of Eden: the Mogador resort.
Generally, Essaouira has a lot of sites that offer a greater feeling to a curious mind, so expect a spectacular adventure with one of our Morocco Travel Packages!