If you want to experience a place in Essaouira, where there is a great knowlegde of cultural subjects, you can visit Dar Souiri, located right inside Bab Sbaa.
The house has over the years done a great work for the benefit of Essaouira -- especially concerning the cultural life.
In Dar Souiri you will find for instance a beautiful library with a fine collection of books -- covering many subjects -- as for instance books about Moroccan art and culture, with wonderful photoes. It's a realy nice place to spend a couple of peaceful hours -- and Fatima, a nice young woman working there, speaks english.
There is also always an exhibition going on -- of art or of a subject, concerning everyone -- like cilmate/ pollution.
There are many other activities going on in the house - you have to go and see it - and enjoy the beauty of the house.
In Dar Souiri you can have very qualified information about Essaouira -- especially on cultural subjects.
For the future there are plans of making a café / study on the roof - it will be great, from there you kan see the whole bay of Essaouira and the madina as well.
I have been going to Essaouira for over 10 years now. I have made so many friends, it feels like going home :)
One thing i often notice when i'm chatting with a friend, is that many tourist fail to enter a street not knowing if it actually goes somewhere or if it is a dead end ... and there are many dead ends.
Download this free map and you will no longer hesitate. This Essaouira Map has all the streets names and is perfect to get around and position yourself within the Medina.
A very interesting place to visit in Essaouira is the house of AFBK - Association Feminine de Bienfaisance el Khier.
It is an organisatation providing help for women and children with social difficulties -- for instance left alone without husband or family.
AFBK has started a production of patisserie (moroccan cakes) - to create work for some of these women - and has also a small shop in the Madina, selling for instance craft made by the women.
In AFBK's house you can have a very fine course in making patisserie or in Moroccan cooking -- and if you are interested learn a little about the work of the organisatation.
Among other things AFBK has courses in French, English and Arabic.
It is very interesting to visit the house - located in Rue Regraga, near Avenue Al Masira, near Cinema RIF. Avenue Al Masira is one of the streets outside Bab Doukkala.
When you are there -- take your time to enjoy life in Ave Al Massira and the streets in the neigbourhood - take a cup of tea or coffee in on of the many small cafees - it's real Moroccan life here!
In Essaouira you will find a very nice market for carfts -- Ensemble Artistanal. It is located right inside Bab Marrakech to the left.
In the market there is a beautiful square and surrounding this workshops with different kinds of craft: Bijouterie, wowen tissues, wood-works - and others. The things you can buy is of fine quality, and the prices are reasonable.
At the same time, you can be sure, that the the crafts are not produced using childrens labour.
In the workshops you can see how the things are made, the people working there like to tell about their work.
I often come to Essaouira, and one of the first things I just have to do every time is taking a walk in the fishing harbour.
In the afternoon, when the boats are returning from sea, It's a fantastic place to walk --- a lot of things are going on. Here you have a sight of some "true Moroccan life" -- meaning you can see, how hard people have to work here to make a modest living. But still -- the working people here have energy left to be friendly and say hello to a stranger passing by. This friendly attitude to strangers always impresses me.
Just be aware not to be in the way for the work that has to be done - and remember, that not everyone likes to have their picture taken, ask for permission -- and respect it if someone says no!
In the harbour there are a couple of fine restaurants -- of cause offering dishes with fish.
You also have the possibility of taking a tour with a boat along the coast to the south and around the islands in the sea nearby Essaouira.
Visiting Essaouira you should not miss the great chance to visit Ranch de Diabat and take a ride on horses or camels along the wonderful Atlantic coast or in the mountains.
The camels of cause are well known as a part of Moroccan life, but here you have the chance also to get to know the beautiful Moroccan horses - a mix of barb and arab blood.
Breeding and riding horses like these is a highly valued part of the old Moroccan (and North African) culture -- and also today Moroccan people love the horses.
In Ranch de Diabat you have the opportunity to see some beautiful animals, treated properly and well trained. For skilled riders or beginners -- it's always possible to find a horse that fits, and you will be taken very well care of!
The style in riding is very similar to western -- relaxed, you can feel that here riding is not ment to be a show-off competition, it's a part of daily life.
The place itself is worth a visit -- it's beautiful and there is a great atmosphere.
The ranch can arrange for you a ride for one or two weeks, for a few days or for a couple of hours -- anything you like.
I have head many people say, after returning from a tour -- on horses or camels -- that this was the highlight of their Morocco-trip.
For prople who like arts -- and beautiful paintings, Essaouira has a lot to offer. Around the old Madina, you will find many galeries -- and some of them with paintings in a very fine quality. For instance in the neigbourhood of Bab Sbaa, you can find some fine galleries.
I love very much the many paintings done in a special, very colourful, very "african" style -- it seems to me to be the visualisation of the gnawa-music !
You can find really great examples of this in Gallery Damgaard, located in the main street near Bab Sbaa. Walking along this street, from the madina to the harbour, you can't miss it.
The fishing harbour is one of the liveliest places in Essaouira.
It's still very much a working harbour and it's brimming with life and full of fishermen bringing in todays catch and people helping them loading it on to trucks.
The harbour also has some very good places to eat seafood.
It's my own favorite place in essaouira and i went there every day when i was in town.
The main square in Essaouira is named after the movie director Orson Welles who shot his most famous movie "Othello" in Essaouira.
It's a pleasant square next to the fishing harbour and it has lot's of cafes with outdoor seating and makes a perfect meeting place aswell as a place to "waste" a day observing morrocoan street life.
There is a 500 year old portugese build fortress in Essaouira that gives the town a very majestic look from the sea.
The old cannons are still standing there giving it a historic look and makes one think of all the battles that took place there over the past 500 years.
At the entrance to the harbour is the Skala du Port, a fortification built by the Portuguese to protect the port. We would have liked to have explored it properly but it was out of the question for me and my crutches, and in any case time was limited. But it made a great photo :-)
Another historic structure is the late 18th century gate that leads to the port, much of which is still original. Essaouira’s port is a real, lively working one, where local fishermen unload their catch each morning almost directly (it seems) on to the barbeques of the casual harbour-side eateries. I was still getting used to my crutches so I decided against walking to and around the port but dispatched Chris who was keen to explore. He returned with lots of good photos and descriptions of all the activity. Boats painted in cheerful shades of blue echo the blue paint so popular in the town. Fishermen mend their nets and pose willingly for photos. Gulls fly noisily overhead and dive down for titbits. And of course the fresh fish shine silver in the sunlight.
All the pictures of the port were taken by Chris, naturally
The Medina of Essaouira was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. Its ramparts protect a maze of streets and jumbled buildings dating back to the 18th century. This fortified town was conceived by a Moroccan sultan, Mohammed III, who had captured a French architect. The new town he created on the site of what had been Medieval Mogador now took the name of "Es-Saouira" meaning "beautifully designed".
Thanks to these origins the Medina has the more ordered street pattern of a European town. The uniformity of the gleaming white walls and blue shutters creates a harmonious impression that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mediterranean village – Greek or Spanish perhaps. Unsurprisingly the town has attracted artists and there are several small galleries dotted around. We had a quick look in one, and would have liked to have been able to explore more thoroughly.
We would also have liked to have been able to climb to the top of the ramparts from which (apparently) great views are to be had, but instead contented ourselves with a brief walk around a couple of the streets beneath their shade. There are lots of photo opportunities here although taking pictures of the architecture isn’t always easy as the contrast between sunshine and shadow can be very marked.
As soon as you can see the beach in Essaouira you will see the camels and horses too! Locals spend all day every day on the beach and approach anyone and everyone offering you a camel ride. They are extremely persistent and also also possessive over their potential customers.
we met siad with his two camels - cappucino and max- several times and explained that we would have a camel ride but later in our holiday. we did then meet a few days later on the beach on our way to lunch - he was very keen for us to have a camel ride right then but we agreed that we would meet him later that day.
we had no idea of prices for a camel ride but having looked at the prices of some of the local centres - zouina cheval and ranch diabat they were charging about 15 euros per person for a camel each and 22 euros for two people on one camel, both for one hour though you would have to get to diabat.
Said initially said 120 dirhams each for one hour per person on a camel each, however anothe camel owner offered 80 dirhams each so in the end we paid 400 dirhams total (4 people).
we got a camel each - and were led along the beach (walking with the wind and fortunately on camel back you dont experience the sand storm as when youre walking along the beach). we were away for just over an hour - we were led to diabat (via the beach and a view of the shipwreck) to cafe hendrix and then taken to he ruins of the castle.. our guide kindly took a few pics of the four of us on the camels in front of the castle too. we wer e then led back to the beach.
all in all a good experience and a ncie way to explore somewhere we wouldnt otherwise have gone.
we took water and a jumper each with us but didnt really need them as it wasnt any warmer or cooler on the camel.
Discover the Secrets of Moroccan Cuisine
3 Hour Cookery Course
You will enjoy a unique experience, acquire traditional skills & take away knowledge that will impress your friends
The 3 hour course includes a visit to the market, preparation & cooking. Khadija your teacher will discus various methods used in home cooking and explain the importance of spices
At the end of the course you can relax with a glass of mint tea while you await your mouth watering meal, which will be served in the comfort of a private home set in the heart of the Medina
small groups of up to 4 people & individuals
English & French spoken
Telephone bookings taken
On the way to Essaouira,on my first trip, we stopped at this Co-Operative.
Each of the processes was explained by the guide.
First, the nuts are harvested (usually around July/ August) This is 'back breaking' work, picking the fallen nuts.
It takes between 40 - 50 kg of nuts to produce a litre of oil!
The hard outer shell is removed by hand (this part is used for fuel) The next layer is used for animal feed. Finally the small white kernel is reached (similar to a small almond nut)
The kernels are then pressed by hand (using 'pestle and mortar' ) to obtain the nutty flavoured oil.
The women of the Co-Operatives work long hours (about 12 - 14 hours a day!)
Our guide explained that the women were eager to work here as it gave them the opportunity not just to earn some money, but it was a chance for them to leave their homes. (Hmmm, I expect they still had to do all their household chores as well as work here!)
* Apparently the women are all divorced/widowed .
Our visit ended in the sales room, where we were invited to try Argan oil, Olive oil and the delicious amlou - argan oil/ honey and ground almond spread on crackers.
Of course, there were products to buy- as well as Argan and Olive oils for cooking/salad dressings, there were moisturising creams, oils and soaps.
Argan oil is high in unsaturated fatty acids, and claims to reduce cholesterol and prevent arteriosclerosis! - oh and its good for reducing wrinkles! The guide had lovely skin, so there might be some truth!
I can't remember the prices, but I paid £9 at Sainsburys in UK for a bottle of organic Argan Oil!!!!!! - So if you get the chance - buy in Morocco!
Also, if you buy here, You're getting the real thing, not adulterated olive oil etc.
I revisited this co-op in Sept 06 as part of my guided tour, which I was pleased to do, and bought some more argan oil.