We spent two nights in Essaouira, a beautiful, bustling historic seaport whose medina is colored deep blues and scorching whites and its wide streets (relative to other citys’ medinas) are packed not with cars but with restaurants and vendors selling food and goods. The ancient fortress now known as Essaouira was rebuilt during the 18th century to increase trade with European countries. Mohammed III, the sultan of Morocco from about 1757 through 1790, commissioned a french engineer to design the city along a modern, square grid. The name Es-Saouira means “the beautifully designed.” And it is easier to find your way around here than it is in, for example, the souk in Marrakech (more about that later) but we did manage to get lost once in the twisted streets.
We stayed at the gracious Heure Bleue Palace, whose entry way is the last photo in the gallery above. On our first night in Essaouira, we felt some trepidation about exploring the medina in the late evening. But the concierge at Heure Bleue told us that the city is a “peaceful and calm place” and advised us to feel comfortable to exploring the city at that hour. So we did, and greatly enjoyed seeing the town’s people out and about, also enjoying the evening.