Destination Guide

The Travel Well Guide

Essaouira

City: Essaouira       State: N/A       Country: Morocco
 Essaouira is one of Morocco’s most enjoyable and attractive towns on the coast. It’s charm is undeniable with its white washed and blue shuttered houses, art galleries, wood workshops, fishermen and colorful boats- all enclosed by ancient red walls. The town faces a group of rocky islands and is surrounded by an expanse of empty sandy beaches and dunes. Everything in the small center is within walking distance and the beaches are quite clean. In summer many people from the big cities come for a day or two to escape the heat and tension of Casablanca and Marrakesh. Essaouira  is a city / wilaya and tourist resort, in the western Moroccan economic region of Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz (#11), on the Atlantic coast.Archaeological research shows that Essaouira has been occupied since prehistoric times. The bay at Essaouira is partially sheltered by the island of Mogador, making it a peaceful harbor protected against strong marine winds.Essaouira has long been considered as one of the best anchorages of the Moroccan coast. The Carthaginian navigator Hanno visited and established a trading post there in the 5th century BC. Around the end of the 1st century BC or early 1st century AD, Juba II established a Tyrian purple factory, processing the murex and purpura shells found in the intertidal rocks at Essaouira and the Iles Purpuraires. This dye colored the purple stripe in Imperial Roman Senatorial togas.During the Middle Ages, a Muslim saint named Sidi Mogdoul was buried in Essaouira. In 1506, the king of Portugal ordered a fortress to be built there, named "Castelo Real de Mogador". The fortress fell to the local resistance of the Regraga fraternity four years later.During the 16th century, various powers including Spain, England, the Netherlands and France tried in vain to conquer the locality. Essaouira remained a haven for the export of sugar, molasses and the anchoring of pirates.The present city of Essaouira was only built during the 18th century. Mohammed III, wishing to reorient his kingdom towards the Atlantic for increased exchanges with European powers, chose Mogador as his key location. He directed his slave, a French engineer, Théodore Cornut, who had been captured and enslaved, and several other European architects and technicians, to build the fortress and city along modern lines. Originally called "Souira", "The small fortress", the name then became "Es-Saouira", "The beautifully designed".Essaouira presents itself as a city full of culture: several small art galleries are found all over the town. Since 1998, the Gnaoua Festival of World Music is held in Essaouira, normally in the last week of June. It brings together artists from all over the world. Although focussed on gnaoua music, it includes rock, jazz and reggae. Dubbed as the "Moroccan Woodstock" it lasts four days and attracts annually around 450,000 spectators.

Climate | When to Visit

Visit during: March to November

Directions | How to Reach

By Rail:-Supratours runs buses from the Marrakech train station into the Essaouira Supratours station, just down the street from the beach. By Road:-Catch a CTM bus from Marrakech's bus station (or the CTM Offices in the Gueliz, on Zerktouni street) for 65dh (plus 5dh per stowed luggage). The trip takes 3.5 hours. There is no toilet on the bus, but it does make one local stop mid-journey, where there are toilets. Book your tickets from the CTM Offices the day before as they do sell out fast.

miscellaneous | Important Information

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