Essaouira is on the Atlantic coast about 3 hours drive from Marrakech. Founded in the 18th century and formerly known as Mogador, meaning small fortress, Essaouira was built to be a rival city to Agadir. It was designed as a fortified town by French engineer, Théodore Cornut at the direction of Mohammed III. Essaouira played a major role as an international trading seaport, linking Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa with Europe and the rest of the world.
Essaouira is known for its fishing port and its blue fleet of wooden fishing boats.
The Sqala of the Kasbash, the artillery platform on the ramparts, offers an incomparable view across the medina and is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.
We were fortunate enough to see all the fisherman back from their fishing expeditions selling that morning’s catch of the day in the open air fish markets. We saw prawns, eel (or maybe barracuda), stingrays, snapper and sole amongst many other varieties of fish we couldn’t identify. Sardines are a specialty of Essaouira and extremely popular amongst the locals. You can purchase and eat at one of the ten food stalls set up nearby…however we decided to eat at one of the restaurants on the port.
The seafood options are plentiful and after walking around the port decided to eat at Chez Sam located in a reconverted fishing boat on the Port de Pêche. It serves beautifully fresh seafood: fresh lobster, sea bass, hake and sole off the boat, all served simply with salad, rice, and steamed vegetables.