A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
We all have certain special cities which have a special place in our heart. The reason why you might have a penchant for that particular city maybe a purely individual one. For me Essaouira in Morocco is such a city which is very dear to me! In my previous article I had written about Ouarzazate, Essaouira was my next stop. This was a city which captured my attention as soon as I first noticed it.
Essaouira is a very interesting city as it has a curious mix of Portuguese, French and Berber architecture; this frames the maze-like streets of the medina of Essaouira. There are the beaches of Cape Sim and Sidi Kaouki which cater alike to the various families that stroll the beach and which also attract surfers of all types.There is a reason why this little town has earned itself the nickname of Morocco’s Windy city
As soon as I entered the Medina, I was sure that this city was special as there was an old world charm combined with the delectable Arabic music which was ever present in the background that gave a vibrant air to this charming city. The souk of this city is extremely charming and easy to navigate. In fact the name, Es-Saouira, means the beautifully designed.
During modern times Essaouira was a rather subdued town until it was discovered by the hippies from Europe and the United States. Celebrities such as Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger used to frequent the town in the 1960’s and apparently one of Hendrix’s songs called as White Castle is based on the town itself. Probably the best way to get the most out of your stay is to stay at a local Riad which provides a homely atmosphere.
Probably one of the best things to do is to head to the port and watch the fisherman haul in their daily catch. The fishermen use distinctly blue colored wooden boats which merge into the sea. One can observe the lively spectacle of the return of the boats to the port, with their baskets full of fish. There is a constant presence of sea gulls which swoop overhead as the catch is unloaded on to the quays.
Apparently the harbor fortifications in Essaouira also has a a local touch as many of the canons, which are present there to this day, were made in Den Haag!
This is an unspoiled town which opens up to you and delights your senses as you as you stroll through the narrow streets. The market of this town offers a thousand different fragrances with its fish, spices, grain, jewelry and auctions. The smell, taste and sounds are bound to fascinate you as is discovering the lives and the smiling faces of the town’s people!
At the end of the day there is nothing better than sitting in one of the roof top restaurants in the town, watching the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean all the while trying some local cuisine and sipping on Moroccan mint tea. Essaouira is in my list of top cities for sure. The fact that Marrakesh and Eindhoven are conveniently connected now makes Essaouira more easily accessible than it has ever been before.