The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Portuguese City of Mazagan - Morocco

Map showing the location of the Portuguese City of Mazagan UNESCO world heritage site (El Jadida, Morocco)

Website Category: European Colonial Influences

 Area: unknown 

Inscribed: 2004

Criteria: (ii)  interchange of values (iv)  icon of an era

Location and Values:  The Portuguese City of Mazagan is located at El Jadida on the Moroccan coast, about 90 km south of Casablanca.  A fort was established here in 1514, one of the first European settlements on the African continent.  As the sea route to India developed, a larger citadel was constructed at Mazagan from 1541-48, the main elements of which are still in existence today.  The fortified citadel stands on the shore, its imposing ramparts dominating this part of the modern town.  The old city wall has four or five land-gates and one sea-gate into the harbour, enclosing an area of approximately 300 m x 300 m. Inside the old city, the original layout and many of the old buildings have survived, including an old Portuguese cistern, a beautiful underground reservoir whose high vaulted ceiling is reflected in the water. The city was taken over by the Moroccans in 1769, and subsequent developments include a Grand Mosque whose minaret was once a five-sided watchtower or lighthouse.

Slideshow of the Portuguese City Of Mazagan:   The slideshow begins with pictures of the city walls from outside, and then continues on a tour of the ramparts, with their corner bastions and cannons.  Back on street level, the old Portuguese cistern lies below the turreted inner fortification now used by the Police.  Nearby is the 17th century Portuguese Church of the Assumption (closed to visitors), and the small Spanish chapel, with its stone cross above the door.  This and other buildings are undergoing renovation or conversion, while others – behind the main street - are derelict and crumbling.

Slideshow of the Portuguese City Of Mazagan:

Comments and Impressions:  There is a major project underway to restore the fortifications and upgrade the buffer zone outside the walls of the old city.  Much still remains to be done on some of the crumbling buildings within the old city, but progress is being made especially where private sector interests are involved.

Google Earth View:  To view satellite imagery of the Portuguese City of Mazagan on Google Earth, click here.  This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing.

Links to other places featuring European colonial influences:  Kunta Kinteh  I  Ghana Forts  I  Fort Jesus Essaouira  I  Mozambique  I  Goree  I  Saint-Louis  I  Robben Island  I  Cidade Velha 

Other Links:     Official UNESCO Site Details

The old water storage cistern at the Portuguese City of Mazagan UNESCO world heritage site (El Jadida, Morocco)Fortifications on the seaward side of the Portuguese City of Mazagan UNESCO world heritage site (El Jadida, Morocco)The ramparts and gate into Portuguese City of Mazagan UNESCO world heritage site (El Jadida, Morocco)European-era cannon on the top of the fortifications at the Portuguese City of Mazagan UNESCO world heritage site (El Jadida, Morocco)



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