Medina / Mellah (City Center)

The modern-day city center of Essaouira is centered on the Medina and Mellah neighborhoods, which were built at the behest of King Mohammed III in the 1760s. The walled city consisted of these two neighborhoods, and large portions of these fortifications are still in existence, in particular the Skala du Port at the harbor, and the Skala de la Kasbah protecting the western side of the city, near the Mellah. The area`s southern boundary is Avenue Lalla Aicha, sitting to the south of the circular fort Borj Bab Marrakech.

The main north-south artery in the Medina is Avenue Oqba Ibn Nafiaa, which changes names after Ben Youssef Mosque to Avenue de l`Istiqlal. Sights along this avenue include Place Orson Welles, the second of the southern gates into the city (Bab El Mechouar), Place Moulay Hassan, the Essaouira clock tower, Ben Youssef Mosque, Place du Marché aux Grains, and finally all the way to the north (by which time the name of the avenue becomes Avenue Mohamed Zerktouni), the Bab Doukkala, the city`s northern gate.

The Mellah (the Jewish Quarter) is located along the waterfront to the west of Avenue Mohamed Zerktouni and southwest of Bab Doukkala. Before the creation of the nation-state of Israel in 1948, over 300,000 Jews lived in Essaouira and there were over 50 synagogues. Today, there are only three, including the recently-renovated Slat Lkahal Synagogue, built in 1850.

Quartier des Dunes (Beaches)

The Quartier des Dunes neighborhood is a modern extension of the old city, sitting southeast of the Medina. Avenue Mohammed V runs parallel to the coastline to the very edge of town, where it curves inland. The two-mile stretch of beach along the Avenue are Plage d`Essaouira (the northern section) and Plage de Tagharte (the central and southern sections). Apart from the beaches, Quartier des Dunes is a popular hotel zone, with options ranging from private apartments to resorts. Resorts are clustered along Avenue Mohammed V and the neighborhood`s eastern boundary, the Avenue Al Aqaba.