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

Medina of Essaouira - Morocco

Map showing the location of the Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador) UNESCO world heritage site (Morocco)

Website Category: European Colonial Influences

 Area: unknown 

Inscribed: 2001 

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

Location and Values:  The Medina of Essaouira is located on the Moroccan coast, approximately 350 km south of Casablanca.  It was commissioned and built by the ruling sultan as a fortified seaport in the 18th century, according to the plans of a French military architect.   As such, it combines many of the elements of a typical North African medina with the wider streets and grid layout of the French.  The sea-facing ramparts of the Skala de la Ville and the Skala du Port, with their arrays of cannons and associated bastions are especially impressive.

Slideshow of the Medina Of Essaouira:  The slideshow begins at the Skala du Port, the impressive sea bastion by the harbour, where gulls swirls overhead and blue-and-black fishing boats bob around on the waves. Offshore a number of small islands provide important wildlife habitat (included in the world heritage site, but not easy to access).  Away from the harbour, the slideshow continues in the Kasbah area of the medina, and shows some of the colourful Arab-style doors and windows that are typical features of wealthy merchant’s homes.  Towards the end, the busy streets and stalls of the souks (markets) are featured, together with some of the city gates…..and, not far from the city walls, one of the area’s stunning beaches.

Slideshow of the Medina Of Essaouira:

Comments and Impressions:  This is one of the most pleasant North African medinas to visit, combining a stunning location with a better sense of organisation, space and general cleanliness than many others. The state of repair of buildings within most parts of the medina is good, allowing visitors to fully appreciate the architecture and design features.

Google Earth View:  To view satellite imagery of Essaouira 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. It is worth taking a few minutes to explore the surroundings  – including the offshore islands which are included in the Essaouira world heritage listing. 

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

Other Links:     Official UNESCO Site Details

Cannon implacement and fortifications at the Skala du Port area of the Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador) UNESCO world heritage site (Morocco) Wide streets and a formal grid layout are characteristic of the Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador) UNESCO world heritage site (Morocco) View of the coastal defenses and fortifications of the Skala de la Ville at the Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador) UNESCO world heritage site (Morocco) Fortifications at the Skala du Port area of the Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador) UNESCO world heritage site (Morocco)



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