30ºC / 86ºF
Essaouira’s natural port, sheltered from the strong Atlantic winds by the Isle of Mogador, has for millennia been a coveted location for various nations. Phoenicians came here over 2,500 years ago and established a colony. Since then, Carthaginians, Berbers, Romans, Portuguese and the French have all ruled over the city before Morocco gained its independence in the 1950s. Today the city’s long, colourful history is still visible throughout. Most notable are the city walls and the citadel which grace the northern tip of the bay. Explore the old Dutch cannons that are lined up along the ramparts, before visiting the neighbouring Sidi Mohamad Ben Abdellah Museum. Located in a beautiful, romantic mansion, the museum houses items and objects that all form a montage of the city’s fascinating history. Next, head to the bustling souks that are the heart of any Moroccan city. Labyrinth-like and populated by the scent of a wealth of spices and handmade leatherwork, mixed with the noises of beckoning street sellers and the opportunity to buy everything from little souvenirs to delicious food, this warren of little shops and cafés is both delightful as it is hectic. For a tranquil escape away from sonorous souks, head to the flat, sandy beaches where the Atlantic Sea gently washes against the coastline. Here you can soak up the sun to your heart’s content, go for a refreshing swim or test your skills at wind- or kitesurfing. The winds from the sea have attracted surfing enthusiasts for decades and there are courses available for even the greenest of beginners. After a day by the sea head back into the city, through the Orson Welles Park (named after the film legend who set his adaptation of Othello here), until you find a great local restaurant. Due to the wide range of different cultures who have settled in the city over time, Essaouiran cuisine is a delicious mix of African, European, Arabic and Jewish food. Try the beef and potato stew known as Dafina or tuck into copious amounts of the staple dish tagine. Watch the sun set on the Atlantic horizon, while you sip a glass of Moroccan tea from a roof-top bar overlooking the flat roofs and the palm trees of Essaouira.
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