Essaouira Jewish city under the wind
It is a city apart. Essaouira is the last Jewish city in Morocco. It is also a tourist city swept by the trade winds. Advantage: sea sports such as windsurfing are very popular there. Disadvantage: people whose health does not agree with these often very strong currents do not stay there long. Still, Essaouira has immense charm. It can be reached in three and a half hours from the Jardin aux Etoiles.
On a first visit, we are as surprised as they are amazed by this ancient Portuguese city. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was called Mogador for a long time, a name coming from the Phoenician word Migdol which means "small fortress".
The fort that remains and commands the entrance to the port evokes the establishment of the Portuguese. An architecture reminiscent of that of the Tower of Belém , on the banks of the Tagus. The beach located to the west is as attractive as that of Agadir, less populated.
Touristy, but with a soul
And the city has a signature, all in blue and white. Tourist certainly, but with a soul. Orson Welles and Jimmy Hendrix (as well as the hippie movement in general) were won over by Essaouira. We fall into the same "trap" with delight. Art galleries, carpets and craftsmen's objects abound.
Small picture rails arranged in the west door present, for example, figurative and ethereal works. A gouache by the Moroccan artist named Amina and depicting a city - and a country - under construction comes from this gallery. It is exposed in front of the staircase which goes up from the kitchen to our Marrakech suite .
An exceptional example of a fortified city
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site , the Essaouira medina is an exceptional fortified city from the mid-18th century, surrounded by a Vauban-style wall. Originally Portuguese, it was built under the Alawite sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah (1757-1790), a distant ancestor of King Mohammed VI, according to the principles of European military architecture of the time, in perfect association with the precepts of Arab-Muslim architecture and town planning.
Long known as the Port of Timbuktu, Essaouira became one of the centerpieces of Atlantic trade between Africa and Europe at the end of the 18th century and during the 19th century. It played the role of a leading international trade port connecting Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa to Europe and the rest of the world. It is now largely supplanted by Agadir .
City of culture
The city is a multicultural center, illustrated by the coexistence of various ethnic groups: Amazigh (Berber), Arab, African and European. Muslims, Christians and Jews, who have their last large community in Morocco, live there peacefully. Every summer, Essaouira organizes the very famous Gnaoua and World Music Festival , as well as other musical events such as Andalousies Atlantiques d'Essaouira and the Printemps musical des Alizés , under the aegis of the Essaouira Mogador Association .
This last was founded by André Azoulay , a great Moroccan Jewish figure, adviser to the late King Hassan II and his son Mohammed VI, who acted powerfully for the enhancement of artistic creation and the heritage of Essaouira.
The medina still retains its integrity and its original cachet today. Its state of conservation continues to improve. Magnificent riads have been furnished for the most part with care. They give pride of place to the use of local freestone, known as manjour.
Avec l'étoile de David au centre, au-dessus de l'arc.
La pierre d'Essaouira leur donne un cachet spécial. Il s'agit ici de la maison d'hôtes Emotion.
Des artistes, des arrtisans.
Une succession d'échoppes.
Une manifestation d'envergure, haute en couleurs. Les Gnaoua témoignent de l'esclavage des Noirs par les Arabes.