Essaouria has stayed reasonably true to its origins due to the location on the coast, directly in the path of strong onshore winds – which has prevented the establishment of a sun loving European elite. A breakwater of sorts complete with walls and ramparts created a safe harbour for the hundreds of fishing boats that ply the waters off the town daily, as well as many various craft in the past.
Occupation has been since the Palaeolithic times. The Romans produced the Roman of purple of toga fame using dye from the species of whelk found here. Portuguese invaded the area in the early 1500’s and built walls and fortifications that still exist today.
During their hey day along the coast of west Africa the Portuguese had numerous towns under their control which supervised as transiting point s for trade goods including slaves. By the mid 1500’s their influence was waning due to the Spanish and British. However remains of their occupation remain.
The Medina of Essaouria is easy to navigate with many restaurants and shops. the vibe is relaxed and not as aggressive as Fez or Marrakesh.
Our lunch was incredible – a Moroccan salad of tomatoes, peppers and onions which started out the meal was followed with numerous types of fresh seafood purchased at the fish market in the morning and cooked to perfection at a local community kitchen.
Following lunch a shopping trip in the Medina resulted in a glorious scarf joining my growing pile of treasures. A sunset of equal beauty finished our day.
On to Marrakesh and the final leg of of journey tomorrow