Essaouira is a city in the western Moroccan economic region of Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, on the Atlantic coast. Since the 16th century, the city has also been known by its Portuguese name of Mogador or Mogadore. The Berber name means the wall, a reference to the fortress walls that originally enclosed the city.
Essaouira is a coastal city with beaches as far as the eye can see and counts among the "model destinations" for windsurfers, kitesurfers and surfers worldwide. The architecture of the old town is strongly influenced by Portuguese military and French and Berber culture.
The impressive appearance of the city wall gives the city a mystic sublimity, whereas the center of Essaouira is blooming with light and magic: narrow alleys, white chalked houses, blue doors, peaceful squares, cosy caf¨¦s, stalls and workshops out of which the characteristic smell of Thuja wood escapes.
The lively harbour, directly southeast of the Medina, is also full of impressions: the fishing nets are spread on the pier, the boats unload their catches, craftsmen build traditional wooden boats and roast seafood on grills. In Essaouira the atmosphere is truly unique and easygoing.
The beach dominates the Essaouirans' leisure time. Although the strong wind and currents makes relaxed tanning and swimming a little difficult at times, it is perfect for kitesurfing and windsurfing. With good winds for most days of the year, Essaouira is a watersports' paradise. The best spots are reported to be Essaouira Bay, Sidi Kaouki, Cape Sim and Mouley Bouzertoune. Equipment can be hired from various hire centres on the beach front. However, this is not the ideal place to learn watersports, particularly kitesurfing.
Essaouira is a perfect example of a late 18th century fortified town, with the original canons still in place and where Orson Wells shot his Othello, "The Moor of Venice".