Essaouira, the city of wind and love

Essaouira, which has a population of over 77 966 and is located on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, is regularly blasted by trade winds. It is a beautiful town with one of Morocco’s best beaches and a fascinating history, which has made it one of the most fascinating sites on the entire Atlantic coast of the country.


essaouira morocco

As a result of the large influx of tourists, primarily French, the city has become a cosmopolitan summer resort and one of the area’s leading tourist destinations. Walking through its beautiful medina can become overwhelming during the summer when it is busiest.

One of the most notable features of Essaouira is its European grid-shaped layout and urban areas surrounded by ancient bastions, as envisioned at the end of the 18th century. Even though it is becoming increasingly popular with tourists,

Essaouira is still an excellent choice for people who want to visit Morocco but do not want to experience the hustle and bustle of the larger towns. Tourism is booming in this area due to its exceptional spas, natural reserve on Mogador Island, and medina, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Quick overview of Essaouira

overview of Essaouira

Essaouira, located at the foot of the High Atlas, rises on a nearby rocky island facing the sea, surrounded by hills, forests, and fine dunes. It has an exceptional microclimate that favors cereal crops, goat grazing, and forest production, which is the foundation of its economy.

Its crafts are diverse and rich, bearing witness to cultural exchange. Furthermore, the’ souiri,’ known locally, are masters of goldsmithing, marquetry, and cabinetmaking, particularly in ‘thuya’ wood. It also has other treasures, such as Argan oil, and fishing is an essential industry due to its fishing port. Indeed, Essaouira’s artisan shipyards are the city’s heart, making it unique.

Since the close of the twentieth century, the odd entrance of explorers and artists such as Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix has renewed the city’s renown.

 History of Essaouira

History of Essaouira

 Essaouira has long been a crossroads of peoples and civilizations as a good port city. From the 5th century BC, it rules by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, and later by the Romans, who were primarily known for its purple production: they occupied the islets off its coast to exploit the mollusk used to obtain the purple color. The Archaeological Museum in Rabat houses artifacts from the purple towns and factories of the Island of Mogador.

 When the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century, they were renamed Mogador. Among the most exciting places to visit in Essaouira, the famous Portuguese constructions were built here. It was later taken and re-founded in 1764 by Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, who gave the city its current name. He decided to make a port that would overshadow the city of Agadir to promote maritime trade. Furthermore, during this sultanate, the town took on its current form in the medina’s main monuments and the city’s defensive structures. It has since been inhabited by Arabs and Amazightribes and a significant Jewish colony that enjoyed greater freedoms and privileges than the rest of the country. The Port of Essaouira was one of the most important until the French Protectorate took it away, diverting its activity to the Port of Casablanca.

What to see and do in Essaouira

see and do in Essaouira

This lovely city that appears to have lost in time is incredibly peaceful and pleasant. Many consider Essaouira one of Morocco’s best beaches due to its mild climate and white sand coastline. As a result, this is a must if we take a route through southern Morocco. Furthermore, because of the trade winds, it is known as “the city of the wind.” We won’t be surprised to see many windsurfers from all over the world.

The streets and gates of Essaouira

We could make a long list of things to do in Essaouira. For example, its lovely medina consists of wide streets lined with galleries leading to many artisan workshops, small shops of all kinds, cafes, and restaurants.

Gates of the historic city

Gates of essaouira

 You are transported to another world through its three monumental gates, Bab Sbâa, Bab Marrakech, and Bab Doukala. You will find yourself in a joyful bustle where everyone is doing their business. This village has no motorized vehicles; mules transport everything in carts. The whiteness of the house walls and the blue of the windows and doors, reminiscent of the Mediterranean islands, immediately impress the visitor. Thanks to its rectilinear streets and perpendicular crossroads, finding your way around the city is straightforward. Even if you get lost in the many alleys, you will soon return to one of the main arteries or some dead-end!

The most active part of the medina is located between the avenues Oqba Ibn Naffia, where the famous Clock Tower is located, and Istiklal and Sidi Mohammed Ibn Abdallah, where the largest mosque in Essaouira, ‘Ibn Youssef’is located. The Souk el Jdid market is nearby, where all the vendors line up, with vegetables, spice, and meat stalls and a fish market.

Bab el Menzah

Bab el Menzah is the main entrance to the medina. It is close to another of Essaouira’s main gates, Bab Sbaa, which provides access to the medina from the new city. Next to these two doors is the Moulay Hassan square, surrounded by trees and cozy cafes where you can drink mint tea while watching the Souiris come and go (the city’s inhabitants). A little further on, after passing through the Puerta de la Marina, you will find the Port where the fishers’ boxes pile up and where you can visit the shipyard, where boats are still handcrafted. We also see the Orson Welles square, which has a plaque commemorating the film director who made the city famous in the film Othello, in which Essaouira was the primary setting.

Skala de la Kasbah

Skala de la Kasbah

We arrive at rue Skala from Place Moulay Hassan, parallel to the medina’s walls. The old city’s forts mix Portuguese, French, and Amazighmilitary architecture. Their solidity lends them a powerful mysticism.

And we arrive at the Skala de la Kasbah, Essaouira’s stronghold of more than 200 meters in length, surrounded by sea-facing walls, where you can admire a magnificent battery of cannons aimed at the sea.

Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah built the citadel to defend the city. With beautiful views of the sea, this is where Orson Welles filmed a scene from Othello.

Bab Labhar

The Bab Labhar gate, built during the neoclassical sultanate of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah, leads from Moulay Hassan square to the Port. We arrived at one of the most unusual and lively places to visit in Essaouira, filled with boats and fishing boats. There are numerous stalls where we can eat cheap fish and seafood.

Skala du Port’s tower

A little further on, we come to the famous fortress that is part of the typical Essaouira scene: the castle with the seagulls hovering above it. The city can see from the Skala du Port’s tower. The views of the harbour from here are spectacular. It is yet another excellent location for photography. The public can visit La Skala du Port from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

You can access the seaside cemeteries through the gates of Bab Marrakech and Bab Sebaa. Through the Rue Allal Ben Abdallah, you can access the old Jewish quarter or Mellah. This section of the city is currently in disrepair, like the Hebrews. They occupied it, abandoned it after the Six-Day War, emigrating to Israel.

Essaouira beaches

Essaouira beaches

Cap Sim Beach

Cap Sim Beach is located south of Essaouira, revealing its density and the beauty of its dunes. You can reach it by walking long distances, about 20 km, or by riding horses, quads, or camels, providing sports enthusiasts with the opportunity to engage in water sports such as surfing.

The road to Cap Sim is full of argan, eucalyptus, and acacia trees, allowing for many hiking trips to enjoy views of the coast and surrounding countryside.

Moulay Bouzerktoun Beach

Moulay Bouzerktoun Beach is located 25 km north of Essaouira and belongs to a small fishing village that has retained its charm over the years.

It is a distinctive beach for surfing, especially for beginners, without neglecting to meet the demands of experienced surfers. Moreover, it is an ideal place to spend enjoyable time with family or friends, where sports enthusiasts gather in a unique atmosphere at the end of a rocky path.

Sidi Kaouki Beach

Sidi Kaouki Beach is situated 25 km south of Essaouira and is an area where houses, hotels, and inns converge. It is renowned for its vast sandy beach, making it one of Essaouira’s best beaches and a renowned surfing area worldwide. It’s also an excellent spot for hiking and various excursions, whether on horseback, camels, or ATVs.

Sidi Kaouki Beach includes a surfing/kite-surfing school that offers equipment rentals, as well as courses to familiarize oneself with the location map.

Diabat Beach

The peaceful Diabat Beach is located 6 km south of Essaouira and became famous for Jimi Hendrix’s visit in the 1970s, offering a beautiful view of Essaouira and its bay.

The splendid beach behind the sandy dune cordially invites for long walks or horseback riding. It’s a favorite spot for many athletes who come here for surfing.

Imesouane Beach

Imesouane Beach, belonging to a small fishing village, is about 80 km south of Essaouira. It’s one of the best-known spots for surfing enthusiasts in all seasons.

It’s the perfect place to relax, sunbathe on the soft sand, and enjoy meeting the local fishermen. Forbes magazine ranked it among the world’s top 10 beaches.

Iftane Beach

Iftane Beach, located 20 km from Sidi Kaouki Beach, is a vast beach with soft sand protected from the wind. Its remarkable natural landscapes, free from concrete structures, allow for peaceful walks.

Adorned with cliffs and colorful abandoned fishing boats on the sand, it is practically the perfect place for a moment of complete relaxation away from crowded beaches.

Tafdna Beach

Tafdna Beach is also located in a small fishing village about 60 km from Essaouira. It’s a sandy beach in Arcan slopes, making meeting the Atlantic Ocean waves a unique and unforgettable moment away from crowded beaches.

Known for its tranquility and beautiful natural landscapes, it’s also a favorite destination for experienced fishermen in search of large fish.

Hotels in Essaouira

 There are as many options in the city as there are pockets. Essaouira hotels are well-known for their high quality, particularly those with high prices where authentic gems are found. There is something for everyone, from luxurious riads to simple houses rented for a few days to larger groups of friends, to campsites and villas. Essaouira has something for everyone’s tastes and colors. Using the search box below, you can find and reserve hotels in Essaouira at the best price.

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