With her first throws in the 8th century as a Phoenician Trade post to the 21st century as a leading musical and cultural meeting point, this Imperial City has had a long and colourful history.
For a change of pace head to the peninsular town of Essaouira - a completely different flavour to other destinations on this coast of Morocco. Protected by the trade winds and with a year-round temperate climate, this city filled with cultural and architectural heritage and surrounded by flowers is a must on any visit to Morocco.
A visit to the white walled city is a must. But take the time to take a walk along the Atlantic coastline and if you've got the legs make your way to Sidi Kaouki to the south. Fishing is also one of the main industries of the town and fresh catch is a specialty of the many good town restaurants.
Essaouira is the centre of artist, music and craftsmen of this region of Morocco and is a centre for International and National concerts.
Each invading army has left their imprint until the Madrid Agreement and the withdrawal of the Spanish in 1975. The Spanish have given a major part to the cities architecture from the walled city to the deep water harbour which was an old haven for the Spanish Fleets. This was the last stop before the Canary islands.
The people of the city are used to the passage of different cultures, with the hippies of the 50s, 60s and 70's leaving the last scar on the cities colourful history when it became a favourite refuge for rock stars including Cat Stevens and Jimy Hendrix in need of rest and relaxation away from the pressures of their fast moving worlds. You will be able to talk to the older generation over a few cups of mint tea on the topic, they all will give you stories of wild nights and beach parties.
"Les Faux Guides" are still a small problem confronting the tourist to Morocco. You'll be approached, with offers to show you the sights, good hotels, campsites, restaurants and much more, all you have to say is no, as it's a commission game and they've had over a 1000 years of training!!
Wood carving is one of the main products that you will find for sale in Essaouira check out the souk and the many bazaars, here you will spoilt for choice. The small streets between the city walls will give you a full afternoon as you check out the different objects for sale in this city where you will find a strong ex-pat network has settled down to the relaxed pace and friendly vibe.
Mostapha Cafe is a must. Sit down and watch the world go by. The "Cafe au Lait" is a good one..