Essaouira, farther south is elegant and beautiful, a little gem, the most popular of the coastal towns, very different from the bustle of Tangier and the Imperial Cities. Essaouira in Arabic is the well-composed, the picture, and is generally known as the blue and white town. Once known as the fabled Mogador, it has an ancient lineage. It is a place for the discerning who appreciate its peace and atmosphere of relaxation.
The architecture of the fortifications of the old city, Portuguese, French and Berber, impart a mystical atmosphere, almost fairytale-like, and the place is redolent of charm. Cream and copper coloured ramparts bathe in pink and orange at dawn and sunset.
Homes are white with bright blue shutters and there are perfect Riads, large houses built round a garden, usually with trees and a fountain, with cool rooftop terraces. In such surroundings one almost expects Scherazade to appear with one of her magic tales from the Arabian Nights.
On the active side, it is Morocco’s best known wind surfing centre and promotes itself as “Windy City – Afrika”.
It has a magnificent beach, ranging miles to the south, a busy little port with nets drying, wooden boats building and seafood sizzling.
Offshore is the Isle de Mogador, in reality two islands and some small islets. These are the almost legendary Purple Isles whose shellfish provided the rich and rare purple dyes used by the Carthaginians and the Caesars of Rome.
The late Orson Welles was so impressed by Essaouira he filmed the opening dramatic scenes of his movie, Othello, on its rampart and is still regarded as a local hero by the inhabitants.
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