Essaouira is a charming, laid-back artists’ colony with cobblestoned streets, whitewashed walls and massive stone ramparts along the Atlantic Ocean. The 20th century brought an unexpected renaissance to Essaouira when the city started attracting numerous adventurers, popstars, artists and famous authors who were searching for inspiration. The city enjoys a growing reputation for its unique art and it is even more famous for its burled thuya wood—delicately formed and inlaid in tiny shops built into the thick walls of the Portuguese ramparts, the scent from this richly-colored wood permeates the air.
Essaouira’s romantic ambiance, plentiful shops and intriguing art galleries make this little town a particularly pleasant place to unwind and relax for a few days. A fishermen’s town, with its pretty harbor filled with tiny, colorful boats which go out early every morning for the day’s catch.
Two of the most memorable places to stay in Morocco are found in Essaouira. Both are converted from 19th century Andalusian houses and have great atmosphere. Essaouira is only two and a half hours from Marrakech and is awaiting those who have the inclination and love to take the time to see this little pearl which has been declared ‘patrimony of humanity’ by UNESCO and has become indispensible and an absolute must-see for any visitor to Morocco.
The Medina and Souqs (markets): The medina in Essaouira is less crowded and relaxed. It is surrounded be walls and there are five entrances to navigate by. It is quite clean and free of cars. The bazaars are easy to navigate and you don't have to worry about getting lost. It is a relatively small area and you can explore at your own pace.
Ramparts and the Port: Essaouira's medina is walled like many old towns in Morocco and the ramparts are quite impressive as they are built on the cliffs. Locals and visitors alike enjoy strolling along the ramparts as the sun sets. The port is a busy one filled with fishing boats. A large fish auction is held every Saturday but watching the daily catch being sold every afternoon to restaurants around the harbor area, is fun to experience as well.
The Beaches: Essaouira is on the Atlantic coast and the water is pretty cold; it's also quite windy. Not ideal for swimming or sunbathing but fun for surfing, wind surfing or kite surfing is very cool to watch. The beach is also nice for a stroll and since it runs for about 6 miles (10km) there's plenty of it. Locals use the beach to play soccer and other sports as well as paddling in the summer.
Gnawa World Music Festival: If you happen to be or plan to make a trip to Essaouira in June prepare for a feast of music. The Gnawa World Music Festival is held here for 3 days every June, and it is Essaouira's biggest annual event. Gnaouas are the descendents of slaves originating from Black Africa who established brotherhoods throughout Morocco. They are made up of master musicians (maalem), metal castanet players, clairvoyants, mediums and their followers. This festival showcases their talents as well as that of international musicians who have embraced this form of music and mysticism.
Morocco Incoming Services offers several amazing excursions starting from Agadir and Marrakech to this beautiful coastal town; contact us; you will be glad you did.
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