Essaouira, Morocco. 2007
Canon EOS 400D
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
f/36, 1/500s, ISO 1600
RAW. As is.
As I was busying myself photographing the interesting “battlements” on the building across from the Riad I was staying at in Essaouira, I caught myself being watched by this man – who must have thought I was insane for taking macro shots of the strange urns and vases that were embedded into the walls. Naturally of course, I began watching him, watching me.
Essaouira is a touristic and windy city in the western Moroccan economic region of Marrakech-Tensift-Al Haouz, on the Atlantic coast. It was formerly known, by the 16th century Portuguese as Mogador or Mogadore.
Archaeological research shows that Essaouira has been occupied since prehistoric times. The bay at Essaouira is partially sheltered by the island of Mogador, making it a peaceful harbor protected against strong marine winds.
Essaouira has long been considered as one of the best anchorages of the Moroccan coast. The Carthaginian navigator Hanno visited and established a trading post there in the 5th century BC.
Around the end of the 1st century BC or early 1st century AD, Juba II established a Tyrian purple factory, processing the murex and purpura shells found in the intertidal rocks at Essaouira and the Iles Purpuraires. This dye colored the purple stripe in Imperial Roman Senatorial togas.
A Roman villa was also excavated on Mogador island. A Roman vase was found as well as coinage from the 3rd century CE. Most of the artifacts are now visible in the Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum and the Rabat Archaeological Museum.
The present city of Essaouira was only built during the 18th century. Mohammed III, wishing to reorient his kingdom towards the Atlantic for increased exchanges with European powers, chose Mogador as his key location. One of his objectives was to establish a harbour at the closest possible point from Marrakesh. The other was to cut off trade from Agadir in the south, which had been favouring political rival of Mohammed III, and the inhabitants of Agadir were forced to relocate to Essaouira.
For 12 years, Mohammed III directed a French engineer, Théodore Cornut, and several other European architects and technicians, to build the fortress and city along modern lines. Originally called “Souira”, “The small fortress”, the name then became “Es-Saouira”, “The beautifully designed”.
Thédore Cornut designed and built the city itself, particularly the Kasbah area, corresponding to the Royal quarters and the buildings for Christian merchants and diplomats. Other parts were built by other foreigners however. The harbour entrance, with the “Porte de la Marine”, was built by an English renegade by the name of Ahmed el Inglizi (“Ahmed the English”), or Ahmed El Alj (“Ahmed the Renegade”). The two “scalas” with their fortifications (the Harbour scala and the Northern scala) were built by Genoese engineers.
Mohammed III took numerous steps to encourage the development of Essaouira: the harbour of Agadir to the south was closed off in 1767, so that southern trade should be redirect through Essaouira. European communities in the northern harbour of Rabat-Salé were also ordered to move to Essaouira through an ordonance of January 21, 1765.
From the time of its rebuilding by Muhammad III until the end of the nineteenth century, Essaouira served as Morocco’s principal port, offering the goods of the caravan trade to the world. The route brought goods from sub-Saharan Africa to Timbuktu, then through the desert and over the Atlas mountains to Marrakech. The road from Marrakech to Essaouira is a straight line, explaining the King’s choice of this port among the many that the Moroccan coast offers. (care of Wikipedia)
views as of 11.09.11: 372
faves as of 11.09.11: 11