History of Essaouira


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Essaouira was originally called Amogdul Bereber (meaning, well guarded), then later "Mogdura" by the Portuguese, and then "Mogadur" by the Spanish. Today, it remains with its Arabic name.

Essaouira was under the control of the Cathaginians and Phoenicians up until the century V a.C. Later, the Romans took over and were in control until the year 25 a.C. The Moroccan part of the Roman empire was known as the province Mauritania Tingitana. The capital was Volúbilis. During the time of the Roman Empire, Essaouira was especially famous for its production of purple pigment.

Shortly before the fall of the Empire, the province was occupied by the vandals in the year 429. Geberal Bizantino Belisario defeated the Vandals in the year 533. The Bizantium empire became the dominant force throughout a large part of the country.

From VII to the X century, the land of Essaouira was occupied by Berbers, who were fighting for independence from the Omeya Arab Dynasty, that reigned in the Iberian part of the kingdom.
During the XI century, Jusuf ben Tasfin rose to power and went on to become founder of the City of Marrakesh.

In search of distant earth, the Portugese, various travellers and the "vanguardistas” invaded the Moroccan coats in the XV century. They re-conquered the African country. Essaouira was conquered first, then Sebta (Ceuta), Agadir (Santa Cruz of CAP of Gué), Melilla, Asilah, Larache, Casablanca and El-Jadida. It was the Portugese who raised the first fortifications like the famous Scalas" that still stand today.

In the year 1578 the Portuguese and Spanish army suffered a defeat (the Battle of Three Kings), in which the mythical king Sebastián I died. The country was again completely under Arab power, led by the Alauí dynasty.

Sultán alauí Sidi Mohammed Abdallah, completely reformed the city of Essaouira in 1764. His royal name is still strongly identified with the Museum of Moroccan Arts, which houses an interesting collection of arms and carpets along with various other marqueteries. Essaouira's golden age took place during the XVIII century. This was largely as a result of trade with Europe. Essaouira was transformed into the most important commercial in the Moroccan kingdom; it became the the main fishing port of Timbuctu.

This was an era marked a harmonious coexistence between various groups including: Berbers, Jews, Arabs, Portuguese and Saharan etc...Mogador then became the most important entry point between
Africa and the rest of the world.

The later decline in the importance of this Atlantic city was partly responsible for the industrial and marine development of Casablanca port.

The aim of XX century brought an unexpexted renaissance to Essaouira. This was mainly due to the arrival of famous adventurers, popstars and artists, all in search of inspiration...

Nowadays, Essaouira is recognised as one of the best tourists spots in the country with some of the best surf conditions on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.

Essaouira has been declared "patrimony of the humanity" by UNESCO. It has become indispensible; an absolute must-see for any Moroccon trip. Essaouira has had seven places declared Patrimony of Humanity to this date: the Medina de Fez (admitted in 1981), the Medina de Marrakech (1985), the Ksar de Ait-Ben-Haddou (1987), the city of Méknes (1996), the archaeological deposit of Volubilis (1997) and the Medina de Tetouán (1997) urbano.

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