Wander through the medina and wonder at the decorative and architectural richness of its buildings. The splendid residences once inhabited by consuls to the city, sumptuously blending Moroccan style with European. Turn a corner, and you’re sure to come across a painter, local or come from afar, struggling to capture the beauty of his surroundings on canvas. The city’s reknowned as an artist’s wonderland is perpetuated by a wealth of studios and art galleries. Built to protect the port, the Sqalais lined with cannons is rewarded by breath-taking views of the island of Mogador and the fishing port
Made use of by inlayers since time immemorial, these days thuja wood is a rare commodity and is only to be found in the workshops of the Essaouira region. With its golden-veined deep red colour and heady fragrance, it is used in the fashioning of a wide range of artefacts, including boxes, jewel cases, trays and statuettes.
The Essaouira region is also known for its silver jewellery. It is renowned for its quality and finesse. The craft owes its existence and fame to the Jewish silversmiths of the 18th century.
Each year, as summer gets underway, Essaouira is transformed into a temple to music. Hundreds of thousands of festivalgoersabandon themselves to the bewitching rhythms of Gnaoui music. The greatest Gnaoua Maalêms (master musicians) carry their audience away on mystical cadences and resonances that have been known to induce states of trance. The event also welcomes musicians from all over the world, providing a joyous music and cultural mix. Open to all, the Gnaoua World Music Festival is also an opportunity for young local musicians to get themselves known to a wider public.
The wind blows hard across Essaouira Bay. While others may appreciate the protection offered by the city walls, surfers, windsurfers and kiteboarders have no hesitation in taking to the water. Over the last few years, the town has become a popular destination among water board sports enthusiasts, hosting the final stage of the annual Kiteboard World Cup, an unmissable rendezvous for the world’s bestkiteboarders. Ever increasing numbers of young people are following in their board sports heroes’ footsteps, with a range of schools offering lessons and courses dispensed by qualified professionals.
As elsewhere in Morocco, you can settle yourself down on a sofa or perch yourself on a pouf and share a delicious tajine or couscous in good company. But what Souiri gastronomy is best known for is its fresh fish. Essaouira is a city of fishermen, and makes the utmost of what the ocean provides. The port’s open-air restaurants entice visitors with dishes prepared from the morning’s catch – impossible to resist the inviting aroma of freshly grilled fish! In the heart of the medina, the most demanding of gourmets will delight in the sophisticated cuisine and fairytale settings provided by the town’s top restaurants.
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