Medina of Essaouira

Medina of Essaouira
Photo by Jonas Kremer.

The Medina of Essaouira (formerly "Mogador") is an example of a late 18th century fortified town, as transferred to North Africa.

Sultan Sidi Mohamed ben Abdellah decided to build a port that would open Morocco up to the outside world and assist in developing commercial relations with Europe. He hired a French architect (Nicholas Théodore Cornut) who had been profoundly influenced by the work of Vauban at Saint-Malo.

The designated area includes:

  • Bastion and forts
  • Kasbah
  • Mellah, Jewish quarter
  • Several mosques and synagogues
  • 18th century Portuguese church
  • Private houses

Map of Medina of Essaouira

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Community Reviews

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Michael Turtle

Australia - 30-Jan-16 -

Medina of Essaouira by Michael Turtle

Essaouira is a lovely little place and an easy side trip from busy Marrakech. Although it's the medina that is the main focus of the WHS, there are more things to when you're there. In the warmer months, the beach is a great place. My favourite area was the port, full of blue boats and blue nets - it's really picturesque.

There are some nice riads for accommodation in the medina and some interesting little side streets once you get away from the main boulevard. Well worth the trip, even if it wasn't a WHS.

Read more from Michael Turtle here.

John booth

New Zealand - 24-Jan-14 -

Medina of Essaouira by John Booth

Travelling by bus from Marrakesh to Essaioura past endless olive groves was my introduction to the Moroccan countryside. It was the harvest season, so they were a hive of activity.

The Medina of Essaioura was compact and enclosed by stout walls. Within, the souqs were more laid back than in Marrakesh, and especially colourful in the collonaded parts. The fortified port also held a lot of interest, especially the seafood grill restaurants.


Malta - 07-Sep-12 -

Medina of Essaouira by Clyde

I visited this WHS in June 2011. The highlight of this Medina for me were the walls surrounding it and the Mogador islets in the Atlantic Ocean. Great picturesque views from the Fort.

Charles Borg

Malta - 27-Apr-11 -

A very colourful, artistic and historical town.Here one can enjoy culture and climate at the same time.I was there in Nov 2011 and the weather was fine. Enjoyed the market. A negative comment is that a bit of hygienne would be appreciated at the fish market a good clean public convenience is an assest.

Ian Cade

UK -

Medina of Essaouira by Ian Cade

I had heard lots of great stories about Essaouira, so thought it would be worth the trip down from Marrakesh, and as it turned out it was well worth the effort to get there.

The central souqs are laid out in a grid, making them easier to navigate than many other medinas. This is due to the site being planned as a European style city on the African Coast. It was based on St Malo in northern France (worth a visit if you are near Mt St Michel), which is a much grander and perhaps better-preserved city, and many aspects of the two cities are the same, especially the sea facing ramparts (picture). This was my favourite part of Essaouira, it was very windy but was a great place to relax and have some lunch.

I must admit to being a little under whelmed when I first arrived, with the city centre not really being anything too interesting. However the ramparts did add something more. In regards to its merits for inscription, I know ICOMOS dragged their feet in regards, and I can understand why, it is not as impressive or as well preserved as St Malo. However it being a European planned city in Africa makes it important and it was a destination for much of the goods from the Saharan hinterland en-route to the European Market. I had good fun battering for Berber and Dogon goods in the souqs so I can attest to the fact that the goods still get through.

Even if I am a little suspicious of its place on the list, it is a really great place to visit, especially if you want to relax after hectic moments in Marrakesh's souqs.

Site Info

Full Name
Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador)
Unesco ID
2 4
Urban landscape - Arabic and Middle Eastern

Site History

2001 Inscribed

1997 Deferred

Bureau - Needs better Management plan etc. Morocco pleased to receive expert assistance

1996 Deferred

Bureau - More info required


The site has 2 locations

Medina of Essaouira: La médina d'Essaouira
Medina of Essaouira: L'Archipel d'Essaouira


The site has

Human Activity
Religion and Belief
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process


Community Members have visited.

AGrego Afshin Iranpour Albarbella Alberto Rodriguez Gutierrez Alexander Lehmann Ali Zingstra Aljaz Andrea & Uwe Zimmermann Andyng-site Arianna Artur Anuszewski Ask Gudmundsen Atila Ege Bas Bernard Joseph Esposo Guerrero Bgbaum Bodil Ankerly Bram de Bruin Brendan Carroll Brigitte Huber Carlo Medina Cgrannem CharlieN Cheryl Chris Law Christine Schmit Christoph Claire Bradshaw Clyde Corinne Vail Craig Harder CugelVance Dan Pettigrew Dani Cyr David Berlanda Dibro Dimitar Krastev Dirk-pieter Djpatten Dkabanov Donald M Parrish Jr Drazsika Drinkteatravel Dwight Zehuan Xiao Elaine McArdle Ellenmck Els Els Slots Emili Xaus Eric Lorentz Eric PK Erik Jelinek Eva Kisgyorgy FS Feldhase Fernweh Frank Britton G.L. Ingraham Ge zhang Geert Luiken George Evangelou George Gdanski Gerlach Gi Gianmarco Gile363 GiuliaCh Grimloch Handballrama Homadism Howard Howard Brayer Hyoga IC Iain Jackson Ian Cade Ian Coldwell IgnacioM Iriss Ivan Rucek Izzet Ege J Mitchell JGirlJGirl Jarek Pokrzywnicki Jasam Jason and Corrinna Jay T Jeanne OGrady Jesse S 2010 John booth Jon Eshuijs Jonas Kremer Jonathanfr Jordanovichy Jose Josie Borst Joyce van Soest Judith Tanner Juha Sjoeblom Junwang111 Juropa K.rekaa Kasia Kasienka5 Katharina Keith90245 Kelly Henry Kelseyyurek KentishTownRocks Kenzaseb Keqi Kjlauer Koen Vliegenthart Krijn Krista Beucler Krisztina zill Krzysztof B Kurt Lauer La caperucita roja Lara Adler Lauren Leontine Helleman Lidiane Lillybett Lisap Liverpool1023 Loic Pedras Longdutch Lorenzo Mejino Lucas Del Puppo Ludvan Luis Filipe Gaspar Lukasz Palczewski Luke725 Luke725 Lynne.Marrs MH MHL MMM Malgorzata Kopczynska Marcel staron Mariam Marlies van Wolfswinkel Martin Lind (Switzerland) Martin Richardson Martina Rúčková Maryaton Matthewsharris MaxHeAnouBen Maxine Eisenberg Merveil Michael Novins Michael Turtle Michal Marciniak Michele Armstrong Michiel Dekker Mikal Ahmet Mikko Miloš Tašković Monica Tasciotti Morodhi Naim Y NataliaS Nihal Ege Nomad99 Nur9704 Nykri Omnisppot PabloNorte Paola Laura Pascal Cauliez Pat Martin Patrik Paul Schofield Peltzi Peter Day Pg280172 Philipp Leu PhotographyBar Randi Thomsen Red Reza Richardleesa Riomussafer Robert Roger Ourset Rogerlee Roman Bruehwiler Roman Koeln Roman Raab Rudegirl Rvieira SHIHE HUANG Sabrina Liebehentschel Sam Mason Samy SaoDies Seethebee Serimari Shaka_schulz Shep894 Shu Sisa_p Solivagant Squiffy Stanislaw Warwas Stephen Brooker Strogan Susan Stair Svein Elias Szucs Tamas Tamara Ratz Thibault Magnien Thomas Buechler Thomas van der Walt Timothy C Easton Tischae Tkinou Tonioto Tonisan Travel Addicts Traveling Girl Vanessa Buechler Vernon Prieto Virp Viv WHS Lux Werner Huber Willc1515 Wojciech Fedoruk X YaroMir Zach ZivaB Zoë Sheng Zsuzsanna Forray