History in Essaouira

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Essaouira was founded by the Poruguese in the 18th century. Although Essaouira (then called Mogador) was home to a series of forts beginning in the 15th century, it was only in the 1760s that the town, then called Mogador, was established and the walls were constructed. The town’s blend of Moroccan and French architecture is due to the fact that a French captive architect, Theodore Cornut, designed it under the orders of the Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah.

In the 19th century, Mogador was the only port (outside of Tangier) that was open to European trade. This protected trade status attracted British merchants, who settled in the Kasbah and a large Jewish community. The town went into decline during the beginning of the 20th century as the French protectorate favored Casablanca and the Jewish community left. However, thanks to tourism (Gnawas Festival) and its fishing port, it is again on an upward swing.

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