Morocco / Cities and Towns /
Town in Morocco with 70,000 inhabitants (2006 estimate), situated on the Atlantic Sea, in the middle of Morocco.
The economic base of the city is fishing and small industry. Over the recent decades, tourism has become increasingly important.
Essaouira is well connected with other urban centres of Morocco by good roads. Marrakech is 175 km east, Safi 130 km north, Agadir 185 km south, Casablanca 350 km northeast.
Essaouira is one of North Africa's most beautiful cities and offers a mixture of Portuguese, French, and Berber architecture.
7th century BCE: The Phoenicians found the colony of Migdol, exploiting the banks of Murex used for producing purple dye.
End 15th century CE: The Portuguese found the city of Mogador, a military and commercial bridgehead for the western coast of Africa.
1541: The Portuguese lose Mogador to local tribesmen. The city goes into decline.
1765: Sultan Sidi Muhammad ibn Abdallah gets the French architect Theodore Cornut to draw up a city suitable for foreign traders as well as military purposes. The name Essaouira is introduced.
19th century: Essaouira is the only port on the coast open to Europeans, and free of duty.
1912: With the French protectorate, the name, Mogador, is reintroduced. The city's importance declines as much activity is moved to Casablanca.
1956: Independence, the Moroccan name, Essaouira, being reintroduced. The Jewish community leaves and the economy is reduced to fishing and local trade at the town market.