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Essaouira Morocco

 essaouira morocco

History of Essaouira

Essaouira was discovered by the Phoenicians in the 5h century BC. They named the city Migdol, with was their word for "watchtower." By 450 BC, the port had become harbor for the Carthaginians, and was occupied by about 30,000 people.

 Essaouira became famous within the Roman Empire for its purple dye that came from local mollusks. And at the fall of the Roman Empire the city was captured by the Vandals, and later became part of the Byzantine Empire.

From the 7th to the 10th century the land was controlled by the Berbers.

In the 15th century, Essaouira was occupied by the Portugues as a commercial and military base. They were responsible for creating the scalas of Essaouira.

By the end of the 16th century Essaouira was run by the Saadian dynasty, who developed Agadir in favor of Essaouira.

As the Alaouites came to power, the citizens of Agadir did not support their regime. Thus, the port of Agadir was closed and Essaouira was again the focus of trade.

The Saadian ruler, Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah built the medina of Essaouira that remains to today. He wanted the port transformed into both a strong military base and a free-trade port.

In 1765, Abdallah hired Theodore Cornut, a French architect to design the medina according to the French grid system and not according the traditional haphazard pattern of other Moroccan medinas. Inspired by the results Abdallah renamed the city "Essaouira" meaning "well designed."

Essaouira prospered as a free port and immigrants included Jews, European Merchants, Arabs, Berbers and African ex-slaves.

Under the French protectorate, focus was turned to Casablanca, and Essaouira fell into decline, and its name was again called Mogador. Nevertheless it continued to draw international stars like Orson Welles as he filmed Othello, and musicians Cat Stevens and Jimi Hendrix.

In 2001 the medina was given the UNESCO World Heritage status for its combination of European and North African architecture.

Sources: 

Unesco

Fromer's Morocco, by Darren Humphries

Historic Sites and Attractions


The Medina of Essaouira

The Fishing Port


Musee Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah

Skala de la Kasbah

 Photo Credit

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/schef/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0