Medina of Essaouira
Visit the medina of Essaouira
This city, one of the rare medinas built on plan in Morocco, was named Essaouira “the well drawn”.
In 1764, Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah asked the French architect Theodore Cornut to create a city suitable for foreign trade on the rocky outcrop in front of the Purpuraires Islands, when he moved to Mogador Bay in 1764.
Today, Essaouira has a lively medina that has managed to reconcile the richness of its history and traditions with a certain craze for culture and tourism.
In the south of the medina, the Moulay Hassan square with its pleasant terraces and shops is an ideal landmark. From there, you can reach the heart of the medina, with its lively alleys leading to souks, art galleries, restaurants and the many small activities typical of these lively places.
3 main doors mark the other entrances to the medina:
To the north, Bab Doukkala overlooks a long artery connecting it to the southern part of the medina, the port and the beach.
To the east, Bab Marrakech takes us to the mellah, the ancient Jewish quarter of the city where Hebrew symbols engraved on the walls and doors of certain houses bear witness to the ancestral presence of the Jewish community until the mid-1960s.
Finally to the south, Bab Sbâa leads to a charming little square on which sits the clock tower which, once crossed, leads us to the ramparts facing the ocean where stand the northern bastion and the Sqala of Kasbah.
Souks of Essaouira
The souks, the heart of the market and local life in the medina, take us for a stroll from Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah street, where along the road there are cabinet makers’ workshops and craft shops on the ground floor of beautiful houses with white facades, on Zerktouni Avenue, linked by a busy alleyway where the fish market is spread out on the outskirts.
It is possible to buy fish, prepare it and taste it on site. Facing it, 2 contiguous plots; on one of them stands the grain market and on the other a flea market called La Jouteya. They come alive every day in the afternoon.
A few steps away, in a festival of smells and colours, the spice souk reveals its charm in the centre of a small square overlooking Mohammed el Qori street.
One crosses, Syaghine street, the souk of the jewellers with traditionally its line of small shops facing each other. The jewellery offered here is mostly sold by weight.
The medina of Essaouira was listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site in 2001.
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