Essaouira is extremely relaxing and with traditional features, workshops, medinas, boatyards and fishermen which is a contrast to Marrakech.
Essaouira is the nearest coastal city to Marrakesh and has a very charming and traditional feel to the town and the port. Essaouira has a deep history of gnaoua music and caters for fantastic seafood and the best place for wind surfing in Morocco!
FULL DAY TOUR: STARTS 7:30AM FINISHES 7.30PM (Starts and finishes in Marrakech with a 3 hour journey there and back) Lunch included along with free time to explore the fishing port.
Facts and Points of interest about Essaouira
Behind its purple ramparts and inside its whitewashed medina with blue doors lies a city that has been influenced by various cultures (Berber, Carthaginian, Portuguese, English, Bambara and others). It was the Jewish traders that once formed the majority of the population and it was they who transformed Essaouira into what became Morocco’s most prosperous city in the 17th and 18th centuries
In the 7th century BC, the Phoenicians founded a base on the site where Essaouira now stands and in the 1st century BC Juba II made it a centre of the manufacture of purple dye
End 15th century: The Portuguese founded the city of Mogador as a trading and military settlement for the western coast of Africa but then in 1541 the Portuguese lose Mogador to local tribesmen. The city goes into decline
The town as it looks today was not built until 1760 by Mohammad II who decided it would make an ideal place for a naval base. The town’s fortifications were modelled on the style of European fortresses and were built by Theodore Cornut, a renowned French architect
1765: Sultan Sidi Muhammad ibnAbdallah gets the French architect Theodore Cornut to draw up a city fitted for foreign traders as well as military purposes. The name Essaouira is introduced
19th century: Essaouira is the only port on the coast open to Europeans, and free of duties
1912: With the French protectorate, Mogador as name is reintroduced. The city’s importance declines as much activity is moved to Casablanca
1956: Independence, the Moroccan name Essaouira is used again. The Jewish community leaves and the economy is reduced to fishing and market activities
Orson Welles stayed here for some time filming part of Othello. In the 1960s it had a brief reputation as a hippy hangout attracting such stars as Jimi Hendrix (who owned a hotel here). Tourism remains a large source of economy, mainly surfers who refer to it as ‘The Wind City. Other industries include fishing, fish processing and handicraft industries
Today, the creative nature of Essaouira is unveiled in the ateliers of its artisan workers located in recesses under the Skala fortress. This setting transforms the city’s craftsmen into artists, its street orators into poets and its musicians into soul healers. The most celebrated of its craftsmen create marquetry and sculptured wood from the roots of the Thuya tree
Probably the best known coastal tourist town of Morocco, Essaouira is nevertheless called the windy city and is more of a town on the coast than a beach resort. The fortified harbour is a hive of activity with fishing nets laid out on the quayside, boats unloading their catches, fish auctions and stalls serving seafood sizzling on grills