In the 18th century many visitors came to Mogador
by ship and entered the medina by the great gateway Bab El
Mersa of Scala the Port, which was ordered to be
built in 1766 by Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah
the founder of the modern city of Essaouira. But the
Mogador Bay and its islands have been occupied since
Morocco was in early history
time inhabited by the Imazighen (known as Chleuh
- an ethnic Berber group). Archeological research
show that they have been fishing in The Mogador Bay,
2000 to 3000 BC.
The Mogador Bay is almost closed by the large Island of
Mogador, making it a relatively peaceful harbour protected
against the strong winds of the area. The site has long been considered
as one of the best anchorages of the Moroccan coast. The rich
fishing waters and the access of fresh water
was valuable assets. The supply of wood and stones
facilitated the building of fortifications. Mogador
was a perfect base for further explorations south at the African
coast and west at the Atlantic.
6th century BC, the Phoenicians founded
a settlement at the island and they named
it Migdal , Migdol ("watchtower").
They also established an production facility for indigo
die (Royal blue) on the Island (Iles Purpuraires).
The sea snail harvested for this production was Hexaplex
trunculus also known as Murex trunculus. Murex
brandaris and Purpura hemastoma was other purple
Navigator (also known as Hanno II of Carthage) was a
Carthaginian explorer (500 BC), best known for
his naval exploration of the African coast, visited Mogador and
started iron mining at Jbel
Islands of Mogador (Iles Purpuraires) acquired
some reputation in the Roman Empire and the King of Maurtania,
Juba II, (Yuba in Imazigh) sent a contingent
to "the Purple Island" to re-establish
the ancient Phoenician dye manufacturing process.
Read more about the older names
of Esaouira in
Origin of the name Mogador
The major influence on Moroccan
culture is Islam, brought to North Africa by
the Arabs. They began bringing their civilization
in the 7th century and the Alaouite dynasty,
which claims descent from the Prophet Mohammed, has ruled Morocco
Mogador has a major crossroads of cultures,
connecting with the Haha Berbers
and Chiadma Arabs.
The historians during the
middle ages describes the site as a fortified town and a
place of wintering for the navigators on the river of Amkdour
In 1506, the king of Portugal,
D. Manuel I ordered a fortress to be built in
Mogador, named "Castelo Real de Mogador"
but the Portuguese only stayed
in Mogador for 19 years. Local people then controlled the site.During
the 16th century, various powers including Spain,
England, the Netherlands and
France tried in vain to conquer Mogador.
Ideally situated with regard to the trade winds of the North Atlantic,
Mogador prospered in the triangular trade between
Europe, Africa and the Americas 17th
- 19th century.Goods and slaves from the sub-saharan
Africa through the caravan trade
passed through and Mogador had its own export of sugar and molasses
from the middle ages to the 17th century. European cloth, Chinese
tea was brought by the Europeans.
It is said that Essaouira remained a haven for the anchoring
18 th century
The town revived with the Sultan
Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah
who let build the Scala fortifications and the port and create
a prosperous environment for commerce and trade. Essaouira became
a meetingplace of many cultures; the Arabs,
the Jews ,the Amazigh
and nearly a thousand Europeans (British, Danish, Dutch, French,
Germans, Italians, Portuguese and Spanish) who had consulates
in the Kasbah of the medina (the
Mogador was the most
important trading port of Morocco until mid 19th century.
During the French protectorate 1912 - 1956, Casablanca
grew up in the North and Agadir in the South and there
were better ports built for modern ships.