The history of Essaouira

That Essaouira, the former Mogador of the Portuguese, is one of the most charming towns of the Moroccan Atlantic coast, is surely down to its year-round mild climate, the kindness of the local inhabitants and its architectural heritage. Yet, behind the ochre and red ramparts, there is a unique atmosphere. You will cross paths with curious onlookers, fishermen, shopkeepers and craftsmen, merging with artists from the world over.

The history of the town dates back to the 7th century B.C. On their way down to Black Africa, the Phoenicians stopped over in the Island of Mogador. The Romans later founded a Tyrian purple factory, making the bright red dye that gave its name to the Purple Islands just off the coast from Essaouira.

In 1764, Sidi Mohamet Abdallah decided to make Mogador a fortified city to counter the growing expansion of Agadir. He entrusted a French architect, Théodore Cornut, with the construction of the new ramparts, thus protecting the new town within from any attacks by rebellious tribes.

Turn round and admire Essaouira, “the beautifully designed”, and then come down from the city walls and back into the present to enjoy all the charms of the town. So pleasurable, so evocative and so charming, Essaouira has been attracting poets, scholars, craftsmen and Moroccan designers since the 18th century. The town is still one of the most dynamic centres of contemporary Moroccan art.

Islands of the coast of Essaouira

The Portuguese named the town “Mogador”, in the middle ages, probably a distortion of the name of Sidi Mogdoul, a local marabout.

Perhaps you’d like to go off on a trip?

Visit the town, explore the souks, the historical monuments and discover the local arts and crafts? Do some sport? We’ll give you all the best addresses of places right next to the Ryad Watier.