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The town of Essaouira

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kasbah seen of the sea. Click to enlarge the image.


General presentationGeneral information
2010-03-06. Click to enlarge the image.Essaouira (الصويرة) is a port city of Morocco of the Atlantic coast approximately cash 70,000 inhabitants and the chief town of the province of the same name which counts approximately 500,000 inhabitants.
Essaouira: drawn well.

Essaouira was also called Amogdul (kept it well) into Berber, Portuguese Mogador, Spanish Mogadur and French Mogador.


Essaouira is located on the Atlantique coast of Morocco, to 173 km north of Agadir, 176 km west of Marrakech and 360 km in the south of Casablanca.

Built on a peninsula swept by the winds trade winds come from the ocean, Essaouira presents a less hot climate in summer than its neighbor of the South, Agadir But she also enjoys a constant temperature in any season (25 °C), contrary to Safi or Casablanca, more to north.


plan. Click to enlarge the image.plan. Click to enlarge the image.
The port
One reaches the port of Essaouira by crossing the customs house, and while passing in front of a tower which shelters the weather station oldest of Africa. The port is arranged at the bottom of ramparts and at the end of the long sand beach end which borders the city, the port of Essaouira is not any more, for a long time, an important center of the Moroccan sea traffic. The port, of modest size, is seen more and more competed with by larger ports for the fishing of sardine on the Atlantic coast.
Fort sheltering the weather. Click to enlarge the image.port. Click to enlarge the image.port. Click to enlarge the image.
If one still built some trawlers there, according to the ancestral methods (out of wood of teak and eucalyptus), primarily intended for fishing, it is however for his morning animation that the port is famous.
port. Click to enlarge the image.port. Click to enlarge the image.
As of the first hours, when the wind awakes the deadened city, the boats of the fishermen pile up in an indescribable disorder around the docks, and the fishmongers install their stalls. The hubbub is with its roof a few hours later, when the baskets filled with fish are hoisted on the pontoon and are distributed between the gravers. The coloured boats and trawlers, the women mending the nets, the sinners discharging sardines and mackerels make a very alive place of it.

Shouted is the ideal moment to saunter, the camera in shoulder-belt, and to taste one of these mackerel or sardine cracklings, in the emanations of coldly fished anchovies or saurels, in the middle of the chattering of the women who repair the nets of the sailors, not to miss the hour of the nap either, at the hot hours of the afternoon, when the fishermen fall asleep curled up in their nets.

The most attractive spectacle occurs to shouted, when escadrilles of gulls, in a concert of cries, come to plunder under their eyes the stalls of the fishermen.

skala of the port. Click to enlarge the image.sin. Click to enlarge the image.
Bab el-Marsa
The door of the Navy made it possible to connect the city to the dispatching platforms while remaining safe from shootings of the possible ships posted the broad one.

It is a beautiful neo-classic construction, more decorative than really defensive in spite of the presence of the two watch towers, was built in 1769 by the sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah during the rebuilding and of the fortification of the city. Side of the sea, two grooved columns support a pediment under which three crescents of the moon are engraved, symbol of the sultan Mohammed Ben Abdallah. An inscription the date of 1769 and indicates the name of the architect who built it, the English renegade Ahmed el-Eulj.

The door is connected to the sqala (artillery platform) of the port by a strengthened bridge, to the squat piles and the notched parapet, which spans the small basins where many boats of all the colors are anchored.

Carry bab el marsa. Click to enlarge the image.Carry bab el marsa. Click to enlarge the image.Carry navy. Click to enlarge the image.
Sqala of the port
After a small staircase on the right of the door of the Navy, and against this one, a beautiful strengthened bridge gives access the sqala of the port while passing under a gross square tower.

This long artillery platform, larger than that of the kasbah, defended the port of the external attacks by a series of crenels and watch towers, equipped with a dozen emblazoned guns of bronze, laid out vis-a-vis the broad one; it ends in a roundabout designed to operate the heavy pieces of artillery. One can still see on the four faces of the keeps, engraved on small plates of thuja, the inscription “Barakat Mohammed”, the currency of the city calling upon the blessing of the Prophet on the city and his inhabitants.

pont strengthens. Click to enlarge the image.sqala of the port. Click to enlarge the image.sqala of the port, square tower. Click to enlarge the image.
Top of the tower of angle which dominates the sqala, the panoramic sight includes the medina, the port, the sqala, bay, and, drowned in the spray, Diabat and the island of Mogador. One does not weary oneself to observe the ballet of the gulls which, after being itself let carry by the trade winds, like to come to rest one moment on the pinnacle of the one of the four watch towers. One can there be delayed, preferably the morning, to watch for the return of the fishing boats.

To walk there in the twilight makes it possible to find the imposing atmosphere of this platform, so well used by Orson Welles to turn here certain scenes of its Othello film. The film made in outside on the ramparts and the sqala of the port, obtained the gold Palm of the Cannes festival in 1952. Forty years later, the town of Essaouira - which counts since a Orson-Welles place - celebrated with ostentation the birthday of this dedication by organizing various demonstrations, among which one musical evening moving and imposing with the sqala.

Visit: every day of 8:30 to 12:30 and 14:30 to 18:00.

Paying entry: 10 dirhams (- 12 years: 3 dirhams).

sqala of the port. Click to enlarge the image.Herring gull (Larus argentatus). Click to enlarge the image.Herring gull (Larus argentatus). Click to enlarge the image.
Sqala of the kasbah
To go to the sqala of the kasbah by leaving the sqala of the port, one must gain the place Moulay el Hassan, vast right-angled reserved with the pedestrians whom animate of many terraces of coffees and small restaurants, and turn at the bottom left in the street of Sqala which leads to the rampart.

The lane of Sqala, very narrow, skirts the ramparts inside the city where high white frontages with blue windows are aligned; some covered lanes are detached on the line. After a passage under vault, the street widens cabinetmakers hold to with it shop and some still carry out there their patient work of marquetry (tables, boxes, bracelets, curios of wood) which makes the fame of the craftsmen of Essaouira.

northern rue under skala. Click to enlarge the image.rue sqala. Click to enlarge the image.
A long slope fixed at the wall carries out then towards the sqala of the kasbah, or sqala of the city, vast platform of artillery to the crenelated walls of crenels in which about twenty bronze guns are still directed. These guns, dissolves, for the majority, in Barcelona and Seville, date from the end of the 18th century and were taken to the Spanishs. The fortifications protected here the city against the attacks by sea.
skala northern. Click to enlarge the image.skala northern. Click to enlarge the image.
The terrace, long, 200 m dominates the ocean and offers a superb point of view. A beautiful door opens on the circular platform, where one operated the guns of the northern bastion. It is terrace of the northern bastion which one has the best seen on the strengthened work, relayed with far by the sqala of the port, the row of the plumed rock small islands of scum, and the coast of the course Sim in mows.
skala northern. Click to enlarge the image.sqala of the kasbah. Click to enlarge the image.gun. Click to enlarge the image.
The most beautiful sight is that which one obtains while climbing on the northern bastion of the sqala: the rock small islands of the Seven Purpuraires shell â loss of sight, until the remote course Sim, in background.
skala northern. Click to enlarge the image.skala northern. Click to enlarge the image.skala northern. Click to enlarge the image.
While going down again, below Sqala, one can visit the workshops of marquetry where were manufactured most parts sold in the souks of the medina. He escaped from it smoke from fires of chips, but if, today, the air is always in charge of the odor of the wood of thuja and of the linseed oil, most workshops are transformed into shops and the true craftsmen are done rare in the district. These workshops, transformed into shop, are located in the old arched casemates where and careened the vessels of the corsairs of the sultan were formerly built, one stored the powder barrels there.
The general plan of the fortifications, inspired of works of Vauban, was conceived by the engineer inhabitant of Avignon Theodore Cornut. Long of more than 2 km, the ramparts were reinforced by the batteries of the port and the city to avoid the naval attacks, and by the southern bastion to guard itself against a terrestrial attack. A network of forts and batteries placed on the small islands, the island of Mogador and the beach of Diabat came to supplement the defense force.

The diluted ocher color of the small ramparts of Essaouira confers on this hot and photogenic city airs of Breton city sheltering some mysterious den of corsairs! Two styles of ramparts coexist, representing the influences Arab and French. The ramparts of the type of the sherifs, looking towards the interior of the grounds, are made coated stone of ocher and flanked rough coat square crenels, round doors and of a narrow covered way; the ramparts of the European type, overhanging the ocean, are built without coating, and are equipped with a broad covered way, vast watch towers as well as bevelled crenels. During the bombardment of 1844 by the French fleet, the ramparts were damaged.

rampart kasbah. Click to enlarge the image.bab el minzah. Click to enlarge the image.ramparts. Click to enlarge the image.
The Purpuraires islands - the island of Mogador
The Purpuraires islands indicates the whole of the small islands which protect the city from the swell, to some cables of the port. You will be able to reach the majority of them while asking the fishermen of the wearing of to lead you to it. But the visitors are rather rare there, the master key being dangerous for the boats, and the spectacle on the spot, relatively restricted: except for the birds, one does not discover large-thing of interesting there.

At the time prehistoric, one could probably reach foot on the most distant small islands while crossing to low tide. Most small islands formed in the beginning only one island, parcelled out in the course of time by the attack of the waves. According to a legend, the Berber villagers of Diabat carried on water their bulls or their sheep to sacrifice them on the small islands! It is on the island of Mogador that the oldest traces of dwelling of the site of Essaouira were discovered.

Known Romans under the name of Purpuraires islands, the island of Mogador and the close small island were visited during all Antiquity by the Mediterranean merchants: Greeks, Cypriot, Phoenician, Carthaginian and especially Romains left there traces, revealed by the archaeological excavations.

The island of Mogador sheltered in particular the large factory of crimson built by king de Maurétanie, Juba Li.

Occupied and strengthened at the time of Mohammed Ben Abdallah, at last century, the island of Mogador is deserted since the end of its reign and shows only the ruins of an old prison built by the grandfather of Beii Abdallah, the sultan Moulay el-Hassan.

The island of Mogador, populated seagulls and Éléonore falcons, from now on is transformed into ornithological natural reserve.

The visits are currently prohibited there except exemption in scientific matter, from where the delivery of a pass. Price by arrangement with one of the barcassiers of the port. Duration of the crossing: 15 min approximately.

The island offers a wide sight on the coast, the city and bay of Essaouira.

2010-03-06. Click to enlarge the image.
The medina
While charging with the engineers and the European architects to create a city ex nihilo, the sultan provides them a unique opportunity into practice to put the theories of the town planning of the Century of the lights. Essaouira is thus only the medina of Morocco to have an orthogonal plan, with arteries in usually broad and perfectly rectilinear. The main axis, directed in the North-East, is composed of the avenues Oqba ibn Nafiaa and Mohammed Ben Abdallah, which are cut to right angle by the streets el-Attarine and Mohammed el-Qory. Inside each small island, this rigor is moderated by the very Eastern imagination of the lanes and the irregular dead ends. Behind the austere nobility of the white frontages, a little curious visitor will discover grouillement coloured of a mysterious life.

One entered formerly the medina of Essaouira by the door of the Navy; today, the walker will pass rather by Bah el-Sebaa (the door of the Lion) to the angle of the Mohammed-V avenue. Bab el-Sebaa mark the entry of the old kasbah, formerly reserved for the residences of the administration of the sultan and the European consuls, and built before the medina. On the pediment of the door, one can read the following inscription: “Thanks to God starts the foundation of this city, peaceful, ordered by our lord the Imam Mohammed Ben Abdallah, 1718-1765”. After having crossed Bab el-Sebaa, one emerges in the avenue of Cairo.

One reaches the medina by the small place of Bab el-Sebaa, encumbered terraces and coffees Moors. From there, more instructions: you lose in the streets which leave the place Bab el-Sebaa and go on a tour of this medina populated of trade and of galleries of Article Prenez for benchmark the minaret of the belfry or that of the Large Mosque which connect the place Bab el-Sebaa to the place Moulay el-Hassan, splendid realization of style maroco-Portuguese (to take on your left when you arrive at the Large Mosque).

The chance of the streets makes discover many houses - announced by discrete French or Arabic commemorative plaques written - having sheltered some glorious pages of the history of the city and recalling that the whim of the sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah had resulted in building new villas for the Western ambassadors.

medina. Click to enlarge the image.medina. Click to enlarge the image.
medina. Click to enlarge the image.old palace of justice. Click to enlarge the image.medina. Click to enlarge the image.
Avenue Oqba Ibn Nafiaa
The avenue Oqba Ibn Nafiaa (old the méchouar), very broad, rather has the aspect of a place, broadside on a side by the ramparts of the old kasbah, other, by several hotels.
Avenue l’Istiqlal
The avenue Oqba Ibn Nafiaa narrows and takes then the name of “Istiqlal”, and passes under a beautiful door to three arches. There the souks open, with their stone arcades rebuilt in 1945: on the left, the souk with spices, the fish market and of picturesque shops of food.
Rue Mohammed el-Qory
On the line of the avenue of Istiglal, between the souk of the jewellers and the market with grasses, the street Mohammed el-Qory, long, narrow and very animated, led until Bab Marrakech, beside which Ensemble is artisanal (every day 10:00 - 13 h, 15:00 - 18 h). Not far from this door draws up the enormous southern bastion.
Avenue Mohammed Zerktouni
The avenue of the lstiqlal continues under the name of avenue Mohammed Zerktouni until Bab Doukkala. The avenue Mohammed Zerktouni, principal commercial way of Essaouira, cut in two the old city. It crosses the Jdid souk, where are, behind the arcades, the very picturesque market of spices and that of fish. It is in this picturesque lane and until Bab Doukkala, north of ramparts, that one is held of the most animated markets of Essaouira. Around has a presentiment of many storytellers and musicians, primarily gnaouas.

In the small street Syaghine, which borders the market on the left after the mosque, the jewellers are grouped.

Passed the strengthened door Bab Doukkala, by crossing the ramparts and the avenue Moulay Youssef, one can see on the left the Christian cemetery, simply indicated by a “Pax” above the door, interesting vestige of the cosmopolitanism of the city. Its tombs are almost with the abandonment, but an attentive reading of the funerary inscriptions informs on the European diplomatic presence with Essaouira and on the sanitary arrangements which had to reign until the end of protectorate…

Other side of Bab Doukkala also, the old coach station is transformed today into buildings intended for the artists.

Avenue Mohammed Ben Abdallah
In the long avenue Mohammed Ben Abdallah, narrow and very animated, traditional small shops and shops for tourists cohabit harmoniously.

Much animation in this street, where the small shops invaded the noble White Houses with the blue shutters and are only multicoloured monticules of fruits, vegetables, of spices, behind which the merchants disappear with half, taking forms of man-trunks. The transverse lanes, by far in far arched, show beautiful stone gates of finely carved size, with the Roman arches decorated with zelliges, and know they also a great animation in end of the afternoon. Everywhere, one crosses the draped silhouettes of the women souiries, who carry all the haïk.

rue Mohamed Ben abdallah. Click to enlarge the image.
Rue Mohammed Diouri
At the angle of the street Mohammed Diouri, for example, the seat of the consulate of France is located in a beautiful villa where made halt, in 1884, the Charles de Foucauld father. In this same street, instead of the current Sqala cinema, the House of Germany was, more exigüe and inside which the Prussian consul organized auctions of damaged goods!
medina. Click to enlarge the image.
The street Laâlouj
While going down again the approach ramp to the sqala, one reaches the street Laâlouj while turning left after the arched passage.

Relatively broad and rectilinear, like all the main axes of the city, the street Laâlouj, bordered today of restaurants, testifies to the so particular town planning of Essaouira.

The street Laâlouj crosses the avenue Mohammed Ben Abdallah, where it takes the street name el-Attarine.

More in north, towards the ramparts, in the street Laâlouj, the House of England, now given up, sheltered since 1769 the consuls of the United Kingdom.

On the right in the street Laâlouj, the museum Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah is installed in beautiful a riad of merchants of the 19th century which was the seat of the town hall under protectorate. The museum is devoted to the habits and artisanal or artistic traditions of the area of Essaouira, and gathers collections collected with passion by its creator, the artist Boujemâa Lakhdar.

At the ground floor, one finds information general as well on the cultural heritage of the city as on the archaeological discoveries (of prehistory to the Phoenicians). It is in Essaouira that the only intact amphora of Morocco was found (amphora of 3rd and 4th century a. J. - C., Aegean Sea).

On the floor various musical instruments used at the time of the festivals of the various religious brotherhoods are presented (gnaoua, hamadcha, aissaoua, etc) or of the marriages and circumcisions, of the carpets and hangings woven by the women of the tribes Arabic-speaking people chiadma or stable-lad bousbaa, of the inlaid pieces of furniture, the incrustations, wood painted, the jewels and decorated weapons, the amulets to the decorations of birds, of snakes or clamping plates, all in charge of magic functions.

Visit 8:00 at 18:30. Closed Tuesday. Closed 11:30 at 15:00 Friday.

Paying entry: 10 dirhams.

Rue Ibn Toumert
In the prolongation of the street Derb Laâlouj, street lbn Toumert, the sumptuous residence is which formerly belonged to plenipotentiary of Genoa.
Rue Hoummane el-Fatouaki
The street Hoummane el-Fatouaki shelters the old House of Holland, built urgently, in 1776, to place there the family of the new consul, and the House of Denmark, smaller. Lastly, the bottom of the street lbn Zehr, a small Portuguese church reminds that the city was for a long time the African bastion of the kingdom of Portugal.
Rue el-Attarine
The souks of Essaouira are randomly dispersed broad streets of blue and white color. Reconsider your steps to the Large Mosque: there begins the street Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah, main artery commercial with the avenue of the lstiqlal which is parallel for him. A great animation reigns in these two arteries which shelter workshops of craftsmen and where, behind monticules of spices and fruits, the merchants await the tourists. Further, the streets are tightened and white lime yields the place to an ocher coating. Many frontages still raise nettings of tinplate industry in the Andalusian and Portuguese style of the 18th century, and the stone gates of size finely are carved and decorated zelliges.

Close to the street Mohammed el-Gorry, the Siaghine lane shelters the souk of the jewellers, somewhat fallen today in disuse, but which was formerly one of the most famous places for its jewellers, mainly Jewish.

One still finds some beautiful pieces engraved out of gold and money in filigree, but the contemporary jewellers do not work any more but the money, most jewels coming from Casablanca.

go to fish. Click to enlarge the image.souks. Click to enlarge the image.
The mellah
mellah. Click to enlarge the image.Old Jewish district of the city, the juivery, or mellah, is in restoration.

The mellah starts with the street Mohammed Zerktouni. In this district with the dark lanes piled up, towards 1950.18 000 Jews (that is to say 40% of the population of the city), living mainly trade of the jewels and fabrics. All, except for six families, left the city after the independence of Morocco in 1956 and the Six Day old War in 1967. Each year, in September, a pilgrimage attracts Jewish Morrocans and foreigners come to pay homage to the rabbi Haim Pinto, buried in the cemetery of the city.

One counted in the mellah about forty distillings in which prepared a fig alcohol anisated, the mohia, distributed in all the south-west of Morocco.

The old synagog is visited on request.

Craft industry of marquetry
Wood employed is generally the arar, or thuja of Cruelty, of which there exist great settlements in the area. The roots of this tree are particularly appreciated in cabinet work: in fact the “magnifying glasses of arar” give, once polished, of which gleam surfaces of a very beautiful effect. The decoration of the pieces of furniture is obtained by means of sculptures and from incrustations of lemon tree, ebony, mother-of-pearl and money.

At If Mohamed Azragui

26 district Lalla Amina

Outside the medina between Bab Marrakech and the coach station. Craftsman cabinetmaker and inlayer, beautiful work of the magnifying glass and the beam of thuja, possible achievements on order. Very accessible prices and excellent quality.

marquetry. Click to enlarge the image.marquetry. Click to enlarge the image.marquetry. Click to enlarge the image.
marquetry. Click to enlarge the image.marquetry. Click to enlarge the image.marquetry. Click to enlarge the image.
The beach
The beach of Essaouira extends at the bottom from bay, with the immediate contact of the city. Its soft and plain slope makes it very sure, in spite of the wind. The winds trade winds bring here during all the summer a surprising freshness.

The beach is very beautiful and sufficiently vast to shelter All-Marrakech in full summer. One also comes there Dirtied and from Casablanca the weekend. If the Western tourists still know little about this corner of paradise, the Moroccan tourists, them, flow there. The beach (not to always say) is thus often crammed.

A vast strike borders the coast north of the city but, beaten by the winds, it is pleasant only by very good weather. The winds sometimes violent ones who engulf themselves on the peninsula more support surfing and the funboard the sunbathing.

beach. Click to enlarge the image.beach. Click to enlarge the image.

History and traditionsHistory, literature, arts, traditions, legends, religions, myths, symbols…

Church saint Anne. Click to enlarge the image.Essaouira was one of the first sites visited by the bold navigators who, as of Antiquity, risked themselves on the Atlantic and sailed towards the Black Africa. The Phoenicians, which occupied the area starting from front the century City J. - C., had established here, on the Moroccan coast, one their principal counters, then known under the name of Thamusida and probably located at a few kilometers north of the current city. Towards 650 before our era, the Carthaginians developed in their Essaouira turn, which became one their stopovers:

a pottery gone back to this time and covered the initial ones and name of the admiral Magon was found on the island of Mogador. It is starting from the Roman conquest, at the century apr. J. - C., that Essaouira became one of the most famous workshops of crimson.

Islands located vis-a-vis the city, one extracted this dye bright red from certain molluscs, the murex, particularly abundant in this place. Essaouira and its islands, called soon “Purpuraires”, became, under the reign of the king Juba II, the extreme point of the Roman conquest.

Essaouira, it kept well
Essaouira knew several names during its history. At the 5th century, it was called Amogdul (i.e. “kept it well”) in tribute to its patron saint, Sidi Mogdul, whose mausoleum, located at a few kilometers of the current downtown area, was essential little by little like one of the most venerated points of pilgrimage the Berber ones.

The pilgrimage, celebrating the memory of the godly man, brought back peace between Hahas (berbérophones of the south of the city) and Chiadmas (Arabic-speaking people of north). De Sidi Mogdul, one does not know large-thing if it is not that its great piety was rented by all the Morrocans who, during the great Portuguese invasions, turned to Amogdul like worms one of the protective sites of the kingdom. The port of Amogdul allowed the transit of all the goods produced in Under as well as richnesses come from the Great Moroccan South.

Mogador the Portuguese
The Berber ones yielded the city to the Portuguese with the whole beginning of the 15th century (Amogdul became Mogdoura then, by deformation of pronunciation, then Mogadour for the Spanishs, before being Mogador of the French). It is at that time that the Portuguese decided the fortification of this harbor city. At the instigation of dom Manual of Portugal, a royal castle was built, of which there remain only some ruins today.

The massive arrival of a Portuguese population occurred only later, at the 16th century, when the kingdom of Portugal discovered the fabulous potential profits of the exploitation of the cane with sugar, then abundant in the area of Essaouira, in the back-country like on the coast, towards Agadir.

Later, Mogador was the only Portuguese city to resist the attacks of the sultans saadiens when the latter undertook to drive out the invader of Morocco. Safi and Agadir fell since 1530 and it was necessary to await the battle of the Three Kings, in 1578, where the king of Portugal perishes, so that the city is again attached to the kingdom of the Gilded Ahmed sultan, the Victorious one.

Saadiens were hardly interested in Mogador, preferring choking heat and the ostentation astounding of Marrakech to him, lately rebuilt. Russet-red cane sugar came from Essaouira. It was exchanged, with the weight, against the Carrara marble that Ahmed el-Mansour had made convey by sea to build his sumptuous palace of El-Badii, in Marrakech.

A citadel vis-a-vis the Ocean
It is only from 1764 that Alaouite Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah undertook to restore and to develop the city. Agadir, the other large harbor city, had just revolted against the authority of the sovereign and benefitted from his exceptional geographical location to monopolize the exchanges with Europe. It was thus important to compete with the rebellious city and to make of Mogador a maritime and military place even more prestigious.

It was thing made thanks to a French prisoner, passed in the pay of English, the architect Theodore Cornut. Raise of Vauban, and already the author of many fortified towns of Languedoc-Roussillon, it minted his freedom against the plans of a new city. Mogador became Essaouira, i.e. literally “the strengthened place”. To this time surprising them streets go back from the medina, built according to a plan rectilinear and equipped with large and broad arteries cutting itself for right angle. Cornut was not restricted to Europeanize Mogador.

It equipped it with sumptuous ramparts, in Vauban, on the side of the sea, of course, in order to defend this new den of corsairs of the sultan, but also towards the interior of the grounds, in order to prevent any attempt at rebellion of the unsubdued tribes. The sultan and his architect placed batteries of artillery all the way along bay. A circular bastion, the borj el-Bermil, was set up at the entrance of port; edge seam its imposing silhouette on the ocean, it gives to the city of the airs of Breton city. On the island of Mogador, vis-a-vis the port, another bastion of monitoring strengthened, the borj el-Assa, prohibited the passage to any enemy ship while, in the south of bay, the borj el-Fighting pointed its guns on the horizon, defending all at the same time the city and the mouth of the Ksob wadi. This clever system of bastions made it possible Essaouira to push back any attempt at aggression, the guns operating in cross shooting and not leaving any chance to the unhappy attackers.

Maritime capital and economic lung
In order to give a heart to his new city, the sultan ordered all to Europeans, benches with Rabat, Salé, Casablanca or Agadir, to settle in Essaouira, which became for a time the diplomatic capital of Morocco. It is at that time that were established in the medina, always on royal order, the richest families of the kingdom. Little by little, Essaouira, the diplomatic city, became Essaouira the sumptuous city: the traders of the king (tujjar el-sultan) developed the trade with Europe starting from the new port which attracted all the inhabitants of the kingdom. Thus the city as well became populated Arabs come from the North of Morocco (Chiadmas), that Berber the, resulting ones from the buttresses of the Anti-Atlas (Hahas), Jews who settled in the mellah (they were more than 17,000 out of 30,000 inhabitants) and finally of Gnaouas, these descendants of the black slaves of Sudan and Guinea. According to an extremely lyric legend, all the tribes of Morocco converged towards Essaouira, especially because of the extreme beauty of his wives, a beauty which made capsize the directions of the sultans of Fès and Mekhnès, and which brought them, by a few nights of storm, to remove the beautiful foreign ones to lock up them forever in their harems!

engraving, French unloading in 1844. Click to enlarge the image.Essaouira however knew a bloody episode at the time of the revolt algéro-Morrocan woman of 1844: August 15th, at the time when the troops of the sultan were defeats to the battle of Isly, the French battalion of prince de Joinville bombarded Essaouira. The defenders of the city corsair deposited the weapons, thus causing the ire of the sultan who, later, made shave the beard with all the wizards of the overcome army.

The marketing activity of Essaouira did not cease growing throughout 18th and 19th centuries. Nearly 40% of the maritime exchanges of Morocco were then ensured by Essaouira, while more than one thousand of Europeans were established in the medina to trade with the remainder of the country.

This extraordinary commercial rise was braked at the beginning of the 20th century by protectorate, when Lyautey decided to reinforce the wearing of Casablanca and Agadir. Essaouira was then forsaken with the profit of its two rivals, but if the commercial port saw lowering its activity, the city obtained new districts outside the ramparts, on the small cross, and quickly became a place away from tourism of mass which gained little by little Morocco. With the beginning of the year 1970, it is in Essaouira (renamed Mogador for the occasion by its new one evening old inhabitants) that the largest hippie gatherings were organized, on the initiative of certain Jimi Hendrix. This one, fallen gives in love with the place where it remained during five years, wanted to even buy the Berber village of Diabat, that is to say a few kilometers of dunes and beaches in the south of the city! Long concerts rock’n’roll, hair and detonators, the rediscovery of Essaouira by the beatniks from Europe lasted only a time and left the place to an increasingly important tourist wave.

The seaside resort of Marrakech unquestionably causes passion. Marrakchis flow there in summer or the weekend, while the world of the windsurfers has the eyes turned towards the peninsula at the time of the world championships which proceed there punctually. There is, certainly, the event-driven one which conveys a certain image of the city. The festival of music gnaoua attracts each year a flood of amateurs which puts the city in effervescence. The inhabitants attend this occasion with a crowd which breaks in the medina, wedged in the lanes, when the concerts are completed place Moulay Hassan. Thus, Essaouira must develop (construction of new hotels) to become a true tourist destination. This will of emergence also results in its integration in the overhead grid. The airport of Essaouira-Mogador, operational since June 1999 (with a weekly connection of RAM), increased in 2000. Its runway makes it possible from now on to accommodate medium-haul airplanes of the type Boeing 737. Since April 2004, a direct flight connects Paris to Essaouira each Thursday. The project of 7,000 beds which will be born in the south of the city makes it possible to consider a restoration of the airport and a lengthening of its tracks in order to increase its traffic.

Let us hope however that this dash does not harm the daily life of the inhabitants nor to the beauty of the site, whose singular charm and the history did not cease fascinating the travellers and the artists of the whole world, such as Paul Claudel, Orson Welles, Maria Callas, Paolo Pasolini…

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