Overview of Essaouira

In Essaouira, a peaceful coastal town on the country's central Atlantic shores, Morocco still possesses an authentic gem, its dense mass of whitewashed houses shining brightly in contrast to the blue of sea and sky, and the blue and ochre colouring of door and window frames.

The tranquility and traditional aspect of Essaouira belie its rich history and the many international influences that have surged through this ancient trading and fishing port at one time or another. Founded by Phoenician traders as far back as the 7th century BC, the town was settled permanently by Berber tribes in the first century AD. The view across the wild, untamed Atlantic, the 'Iles Purpuraires' and the score of blue fishing boats bobbing in the harbour is both panoramic and enchanting.

In the 19th century, as the solitary free trade zone on the Moroccan coast, Essaouira was the only town in the country to have a Jewish community that outnumbered the Muslim one. Apart from its charming mix of Portuguese, Berber and French architecture, and its beautiful setting, it is this unique sense of tolerance, coupled with a laid-back atmosphere, which makes Essaouira so appealing.