Visit Essaouira : The Full Tourism Guide
Essaouira awakens, with delicacy, the artist who sleeps in everyone. Its azure horizon, its pinkish ocher fortifications and its white houses with blue frames form a perfect watercolor. Behind its ramparts, protected from the wind, a timeless world. Here, the architects of the past stimulate the creativity of new generations.
Strong and refined, the beautiful sorcerer shows off her atypical charm. Cannons pointed towards the ocean, it always impresses the visitor. But by getting closer to the soul of this emblematic city, you let yourself be captivated by its subtleties. The sweet scent of thuja wood guides us towards its craftsmen with precise gestures. Around a table, green tea in hand, we discover conviviality.
Known for its culture and its festival, the city of trade winds also delight surfers from all walks of life. A popular seaside resort, Essaouira attracts thousands of vacationers every year.
More than a city, Essaouira is a muse to which we remain attached.
The history of Essaouira
Sheltered by the trade winds, the archipelago was discovered by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC. Used as an anchorage by the Carthaginian navigator Hanno in 500 BC, it served, for several centuries, as an outpost on the road to Cape Verde and Ecuador.
In the Middle Ages, the Portuguese established an important trading post and named the city Mogador. In 1541, the Saadians took control of it before leaving it in the hands of the Alaouites.
The city took the name of Essaouira with the construction of the new city by the sultan Mohamed Ibn Abdallah in 1765. It then experienced a great period of prosperity and remained a high place of trade with foreigners until the beginning of the 20th century.
Today, Essaouira is a haven of peace that inspires artists from all over the world. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its medina has gone through the ages and seems protected from the ravages of time.
Behind the ramparts hides a luminous city with its entangled alleys, its small squares and its whitewashed houses. Mythical backdrop to Orson Welles’s film “Othello”, it influences and captivates filmmakers.
Ridley Scott recreates Jerusalem there for the film “Kingdom of Heaven”.
Paradise of Jimmy Hendrix and Hippie musicians of the 70s, she still lives to the rhythm of Gnaoua music.
The unmissable places in Essaouira :
Discover enchanting places by following in the footsteps of these artists of yesterday and today … During a walk in the medina, you will be struck by the architectural and decorative richness of its buildings.
You will discover splendid houses of consuls, a mixture of Moroccan and European style.
At the corner of an alley, you will undoubtedly meet a painter from here or elsewhere trying to capture the beauty of the place on canvas. Numerous workshops and art galleries maintain the artistic renown of the city.
Formerly a coveted city, Essaouira is protected by an important defensive device made of fortified bastions. Built to support the port, the Sqala is decked out with cannons.
You can walk along its ramparts and enjoy a sublime view of the island of Mogador and the fishing port. Connecting the city to the port, the Porte de la Marine impresses with its grandeur. Erected in 1769, this monumental freestone building is adorned with two columns and a triangular pediment.
Protecting the city from attacks from the ocean, the northern stronghold was a vast artillery platform surrounded by crenellated walls. The terrace of this bastion offers a unique view of the medina and the Sqala.
The Azure horizon of Essaouira
On the Atlantic coast, facing the medina, the Mogador seaside resort revives the tourist spirit of the city. An integral part of the Plan Azur aiming to develop intelligent tourism, it has numerous infrastructures perfectly integrated into their environment.
Authenticity, sport and culture are the key words of this project. Luxury hotels and charming villas will welcome vacationers in an idyllic setting. On foot or by bike, you are invited to take the paths and admire the gulls that have found refuge on the resort’s seven artificial lakes.
At each stage of the walk, you will be able to observe the city of Essaouira, the dunes and the sea from a different angle. A place of rest and leisure, the Mogador resort has three golf courses respecting the natural topography of the site with its dunes, sand and vegetation. Everything is done to meet your wishes.
Tennis or golf to keep fit, the spa to relax and luxury boutiques for shopping.
The main places:
- Riads in the heart of the medina
To live fully to the rhythm of the Souiris, nothing beats the charm of a Riad. In the heart of the medina, the traditional accommodation has been renovated to offer passing guests all modern comforts.
The Riad is built around a central patio bathed in light which serves as a place of life and relaxation. Sometimes decorated with a fountain, orange trees or olive trees, it turns into a shady garden.
On the upper floors, accessible by the interior passageways, you will discover your room decorated in the purest Moroccan tradition and offering all modern comforts. The terrace with a 360 ° view is the ideal place to admire the medina.
- The souks of Essaouira
What would Essaouira be without its souks! A must for Moroccans and tourists alike, the souk is a lively and colorful place. Between foodstuffs and artisanal products, each souk in the medina offers a magical and exotic spectacle. The scents of spices in shimmering colors and the scents of worked wood awaken the senses.
The displays of fabrics or silver jewelry are pleasures for the eyes. Stroll between the stalls and you will not leave empty-handed …
- Place Moulay Hassan
The beating heart of Essaouira, Place Moulay Hassan is the city’s most lively place. Located inside the medina, not far from the ramparts and the port, this pretty tree-lined square offers an ideal setting to enjoy mint tea.
Sitting on one of its café terraces, you can watch the nonchalant comings and goings of passers-by.
- Local gastronomy: prestigious tables and meals at the fishing port
Around a table, sitting on a sofa or an ottoman, we share tagine and couscous (Best Foods to Eat in Morocco). But what makes the reputation of the local gastronomy, it is its fresh fish.
Fishing town, Essaouira, benefits from the best seafood. In the port, open-air cafés invite visitors to taste the freshly caught fish. Impossible not to be tempted by the smells of grilled meats.
In the heart of the medina, gourmets will appreciate the refined cuisine and the magical setting of a few large tables.
In an old house of Caid or in a restored Riad, subtle flavors and sweet scents will invade you. Used in cooking, argan oil is recognized for its multiple virtues, its almond and hazelnut taste will enhance the flavor of your dishes.
The activities you should try in Essaouira:
A true temple of well-being, Essaouira is the ideal place to get back in shape. Several top-of-the-range specialized centers offer relaxing treatments in a soothing setting.
By using various marine elements such as sand, algae and sea water for therapeutic purposes, thalassotherapy helps fight many ailments: heavy legs, back problems, joint and muscle pain, etc. It promotes good health, relaxes the body and calms the mind.
By combining the benefits of the ocean with those of the land of Essaouira, well-being specialists offer the best of natural treatments such as argan oil massages or sea mud and seaweed wraps. . . Programs alternating relaxation, care and physical activities allow you to get back into shape gently.
- Watersports and activities
The wind is blowing hard over the bay of Essaouira. If you appreciate the protection of its ramparts, snowboarders, surfers and kiteboarders jump into the water with the greatest pleasure.
In just a few years, the city has become a hotspot for water sports and notably hosts the final stage of the Kiteboard World Cup, an unmissable event for the world’s best kiteboarders.
More and more young people are following the path of these stars of board sports. Several schools offer courses and internships supervised by certified professionals.
There is no shortage of activities on the huge Essaouira beach. Thrill seekers can practice water skiing, jet skiing or even scuba diving.
The festivals of Essaouira:
- Gnaoua and World Music Festival
Each year, at the start of summer, Essaouira turns into a temple of music. Hundreds of thousands of festival-goers let themselves be carried away by the throbbing rhythms of Gnaoui music.
The greatest Maalems (masters) Gnaoua transport the audience to mystical cadences and sounds that sometimes lead to trance.
Also welcoming artists from all over the world, this event is a true cultural and musical mix. Open to all, the Gnaoua and World Music Festival is also an opportunity for young local artists to make themselves known to a large audience.
- Atlantic Andalusia
This event, which aims to be a Moroccan-Spanish cultural forum with Mediterranean and Latin American dimensions, offers an eclectic program: musical concerts, artistic workshops, conferences, exhibitions … The festival is an opportunity to discover the roots and ramifications of Andalusian memory.
Either you call it Essaouira, Mogador, the city of trade winds will place itself on a major shelf in your vacation memories locker, you just know now that you’re more than ready to book for a once in a lifetime experience.