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The beautiful and historical coastal city is pronounced as “essa-we-rah” or “sah-we-rah”. It is a design of European engineers and many parts of the city are listed in UNESCO world heritage site. The beach is popular for surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing with the view of old brass cannons lined over the walls. There is no train station so the bus service can be used to reach the city. Many companies operate from almost every city of Morocco that can be booked online. Taxi service is also available from Marrakech airport but only in the day time. There is a variety of accommodation options like riads, hotels, apartments, hostels and guest houses. If you want to stay in the heart of the old city and enjoy historical place, then riad is a best option because some of them belong to 11th century. The best things to do in Essaouira are as follows:
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#1 SQALA, THE OLD FORTRESS
Portuguese constructed this stunning fortress covering the three sides of atlantic coast to prevent the invasion during 1500’s. It was reconstructed with higher and sturdy stone walls because the earlier one was destroyed. It provides the amazing view of ocean and historic Mogador island, small fishing vessels and seagulls. While walking around the fortress there are brass cannons installed pointing out to sea. This was used as the defense system for the city.
#2 WALKING AROUND THE PORT
The port is an active fishing spot since the early times. It was the initial main fishing areas of the country. The activities of fishing, sailing boats, workers working with huge nets and strong ropes across the paths are very interesting to observe. There are boats of every size in the port during day and more boats gather in evening when fishermen return.
#3 VISIT THE SEA FOOD MARKET
After watching the fishing activities, trying some fresh sea food becomes necessary. There are stalls, shops, vendors selling sea food where you can buy to cook it yourself. You can also sit in one of the restaurants to try some freshly caught seafood. Some vendors sell snacks made of different sea life that you can try while walking around. Morocco is famous for fresh sardines, there are also sea urchins, squids, mussels, eel, prawns and ocean fish available.
#4 ROAM AROUND THE SOUKS
The old medina of Essaouira has small stores and stalls with more easy going atmosphere as compared to other medinas. There are side walkways, alley ways and squares with shops and stalls selling unique art, crafts and other things. There are works of many local artists so you find a variety of unique products.
There are wood carvings, lamps, tea sets, pottery, ceramics, lacquer goods, carpets,textiles and many more. Argan grows abundantly near the city so argan oil, shampoos, soaps and other products are commonly available in the market. You can buy some good quality argan products. There are many small workshops in the narrow alleys that you can visit to watch the people working.
#5 OLD MEDINA
The old medina also has some very old buildings and riads. They have not changed a lot so you can easily assume how people lived in the old times. The preserved decorative doors, tall windowless walls, passages, alleys and arches made it to the UNESCO world heritage site. You will spot odd motorbike, donkey and carts during roaming around and they will shout out loud to make a way if someone is standing there.
#6 WITNESS THE JEWISH QUARTER
Morocco remained under different nations and dynasties. The Essaouira city remained the home of Jews for a long time who lived with Muslims side by side. Mellah is the Jewish quarter where the graffiti covered buildings and streets still show their marks of lifestyle. Almost all of them moved to Israel in nineteenth century. The population is not excessive and there are a lot of cats roaming around the streets.
#7 HAVE A SUNBATH AND SWIMMING
The long white sandy beach of Essaouira are perfect to enjoy the views, walk along side and have a dip in the ocean. The swimming is only for the stubborn people because there is a lot of wind. The coast line offers surfing, kite surfing, camel riding and windsurfing.
#8 VISIT ARGAN FARMS
The city is surrounded by Argan cooperatives. You can enjoy a trip there to watch people working and extracting the oil from nuts. There are camels, sheep and goats around the trees. Most of the cooperatives are owned by the women. The drawback is that this place is a rip off because the oil they make is pure where as the one they sell is mostly mixed and impure. You can get good knowledge about Argan and its oil extraction.
#9 GOATS IN THE TREES
Argan trees mostly grow in the wilderness kind of environment so you will see a lot of fascinating things. The most unique and funny sight is the goats climbing on the trees to eat fruits. Mostly farmers allow the goats to get on the tree to get some tourist benefits like tips for capturing photos otherwise they protect the tree. If you explore individually or without a group, then you will find goats climbing trees naturally.
#10 ENJOY ART ET GALLERIES
The city is filled with a variety of art places where you can see the works of local artists, old dynasties crafts and traditional goods. Some galleries also have cafés and small restaurant where you can enjoy food and buy crafts.
#11 GNAOUA WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL
It is considered among the biggest festivals of the music world where more than 500,000 people are welcomed in the city for four days. It takes place in summers when musicians and artists from all over the world gather. This is one of the biggest event of Morocco.
The hypnotic sounds on Gnaoua and Berber culture is focused more with every other type of music like jazz, punk, indie, rock and other genres. This is especially attended because Gnawa music is the spiritual music and rhythm of North African Islamic community and Morocco. It is practiced to give the awareness of spirituality through music combined with poetry and dancing.
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