190 km west of Marrakech (2h30 drive), you will find Essaouira or Mogador: a small city on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.
The first thing you smell at Essaouira is the fresh air mixed with the scents of flowers.
At every moment, the spectacular oceanic decor amazes you. Your eyes will catch the extremely bright colors. White and blue are the dominant colors of Essaouira. The city seems to be like a white pearl with blue reflections.
This town is both charming and messy, romantic and battered, captivating and melancholy. This fragile and precious contrast attracts delicate spirits. Many international artists have decided to settle there.
Whether you want a lazy stay or a more energetic one, Essaouira has the assets that will fit you. You will get much more than a journey, a sensory experience.
Here are the most suitable places to visit and the best things to do during your stay at Essaouira.
Essaouira Fishing Port
The first thing you feel when you visit Essaouira port is the cool air mixed with the smells of fresh fish.
This port has historical decor and a lively atmosphere.
Here the colorful boats gather in an indescribable disorder around docks. When baskets full of fish arrive, the noise rises. Seagulls come to steal the fishermen's stalls in front of their eyes.
The port also has a rich history behind it. You can see Bab El-Marsa (Gate of the Navy), a gate from the 18th century.
To the right of Bab el-Marsa, a beautiful fortified bridge gives access to the Sqala of the Port. The Sqala of the Port isa vast artillery platform from the 18th century that protected the city against sea attacks.
Here is a link to the complete guide to visiting Essaouira port.
The Medina Of Essaouira
Within the medina, the architecture is tempered by the oriental narrow roads. Behind the modest white facades, you will discover a colorful, warm, and mysterious life.
You can get lost in the back streets, chill out at the Moulay El Hassan square, or watch the sunset from the top of the Sqala of the Kasbah.
Visiting the museum, souks, shops, and galleries is also a good part of your tour.
Here you can find, in detail, the best things to do in the Medina of Essaouira.
Here you can have the opportunity to admire a magnificent sunset while being lulled by the sound of the water.
Essaouira has beaches that are among the most astonishing in the country. From north to south, the area of Essaouira has a large choice of beaches stretching over 153 km.
Numerous beaches have high ecological value with dunes, vegetation, forests, and the sea.
Some are world-famous shores such as Moulay Bouzarqtoun, Sidi Kaouki, and Imsouane. And others are disguised places.
For surfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts, Essaouira is an excellent choice. The winds blow all year round. It makes the city a famous destination.
When you are in Essaouira, here are the list of the best beaches of Essaouira you must visit.
Extracting Argan Oil
Argan oil is rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. And scientific researches proved that Argan is excellent for the skin, hair, and all the body.
If everybody knows the benefits of argan oil, few recognize the mechanism to get this majestic oil. This skill requires knowledge passed from generation to generation.
If you visit an Argan oil cooperative, you will be amazed by seeing the process to produce Argan oil.
If you want to buy Argan oil, Essaouira is the perfect place. In Essaouira, many shops offer Argan oil at competitive prices. Yet, please read our article on tips to buy Argan oil.
The Jewish Neighborhood In Essaouira
A trek to Essaouira is consistently a pleasure. For Jews of Morocco, the Jewish sites of Mogador are a prominent attraction.
From the first days of the city of Essaouira, a Jewish community was present.
Around 1950, the city hosted 20,000 Jews and counted 47 synagogues. The city maintains the place where its Jewish citizens made the reputation of Mogador.
Here are the five most important Jewish sites in Essaouira.
The Purpuraires Islands
A legend said that the Berber villagers of Diabat carried their sheep over the waters to sacrifice them on the islets.
The Purpuraires Islands refers to all the islets that protect the city from the swells. Most of the islets originally formed a single island, broken up over time by the onslaught of waves.
The islets are a stone's throw from the port. You can access most of them by asking the fishermen in the harbor to take you there. The pass is tricky for the boats. At low tide, you could access the more remote islets on foot.
The spectacle on the spot is small. Apart from the birds, one discovers not much interesting there.
The island of Mogador, home to seagulls and Eleonore's falcons, is now an ornithological nature reserve.
On the island of Mogador, we discovered the oldest traces of habitation in Essaouira. Throughout antiquity, Mediterranean merchants visited the island of Mogador and the neighboring islet. They were Greeks, Cypriots, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans. They have left traces there that archaeological excavations revealed.
In the 19th century, the Moroccan Sultan occupied and fortified the island. Since the end of his reign, the island of Mogador has been deserted. It only shows the ruins of an old prison.
The island offers an extensive view of the coast, the city, and the bay of Essaouira. The duration of the crossing is about 15min. But you need special permission to visit the island.
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