The word Essaouira means image. Observed from any angle, Essaouira is a perfect photograph. Behind its purple ramparts and inside its whitewashed medina with blue doors lies a city that has been influenced by various cultures (Berber, Carthaginian, Portuguese, English, Bambara and others). It was the Jewish traders that once formed the majority of the population and it was they who transformed Essaouira into what became Morocco’s most prosperous city in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Today, the creative nature of Essaouira is unveiled in the ateliers of its artisan workers located in recesses under the Skala fortress where Orson Wells filmed most of Othello in 1949. This setting transforms the city’s craftsmen into artists, its street orators into poets and its musicians into soul healers. The most celebrated of its craftsmen create marquetry and sculptured wood from the roots of the Thuya tree.
Essaouira stands on a vast bay sweeping south with miles of superb sandy beach and wooded hills dominating the skyline to the east. The medina with its honeycomb of souks lends a potent mystique to the town.
Probably the best known coastal tourist town of Morocco, Essaouira is nevertheless called the windy city and is more of a town on the coast than a beach resort. The fortified harbour is a hive of activity with fishing nets laid out on the quayside, boats unloading their catches, fish auctions and stalls serving seafood sizzling on grills.
Like the other cities, Essaouira has big hotels along with the ryad’s of the medina.