The Essaouira Medina
Had enough of the hustle and bustle of the souks and city life In Marrakech? Then let us show you a quaint little seaside resort just 2 hours out of Marrakech. We leave the red city scenery to a new vision of green softness, and embracing winds of the Atlantic Ocean to visit one of the most charming medinas, the Essaouira medina in Morocco.
Essaouira - UNESCO World Heritage City
Since the 16th century, the city has also been known by its Portuguese
name of Mogador or Mogadore. The Berber name means the wall, a reference to the fortress walls that originally enclosed the city. This city is now a UNESCO World Heritage City.
Essaouira’s 18th century port, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dominates this scene. This quaint city is home to artists, musicians, craftsmen and film-makers, it gives you its ever popular fish market and its fortified walls, turrets and colonnades.
It is the wind – the beautifully named alizee, or taros in Berber, that, gives Essaouira its beauty. It blows too hard to attract sun, sand and sea tourists: for much of the year, you can’t sit on the beach at all as the sand blows horizontally in your face. No surprise then that Essaouira has been dubbed ‘Wind City of Africa’ and attracts so many windsurfers.
In the early 1950s film director and actor Orson Welles
stayed at the Hotel des Iles just south of the town walls during the filming of his 1952 classic version of "Othello" which contains several memorable scenes shot in the labyrinthine streets and alleyways of the medina. Legend has it that during Welles's sojourn in the town he met Winston Churchill, another guest at the Hotel des Iles. Orson Welles's bust is located in a small square just outside the medina walls close to the sea. It is in a neglected state being covered in bird droppings, graffiti and with a broken nose. In addition, the dedication plaque below it has been stolen (as of Dec 2008). Several other film directors have utilised Essaouira's photogenic and atmospheric qualities.
Essaouira presents itself as a city full of culture: several small art galleries are found all over the town. Essaouira lies on the crossroads between two tribes: the Arab Chiadma to the north and the Haha Berbers in the south. Add to that the Gnaoua, who came originally from further south in Africa, and the Europeans and you get a rich cultural mix. The light and beauty have forever attracted artists to Essaouira, and the town has a flourishing art scene. The sculptor Boujemaa Lakhdar started the local museum in the 1950s and, in the process, inspired a generation of artists. Essaouira is a Dream Holiday destination.
Morocco Music FestivalSince 1998, the Gnaoua Festival of World Music is held in Essaouira, normally in the last week of June. It brings together artists from all over the world. Although focussed on gnaoua music, it includes rock, jazz and reggae. Dubbed as the "Moroccan Woodstock" it lasts four days and attracts annually around 450,000 spectators. At 1600hrs we will end our Day Trip from Essaouira to Marrakech.