About El Jadida
On the shore of the Atlantic Ocean lies a beautiful city in the shape of a fortress formerly called “Mazagan”; a true cultural jewel, El Jadida (as it is now called) was classified as a site of Cultural Heritage in 2004. This welcoming city is an example of cultural influences between Europe and Morocco; offering a mild climate, El Jadida attracts history enthusiasts who wish to see the Portuguese cistern or the Church of the Assumption; movie-goers in search of inspiration following the footsteps of Orson Welles; and tourists eager to enjoy its beautiful beaches.
A stunning former Portuguese port, its fortified walls facing the ocean, the old city has today become a charming seaside resort. The former Mazagan became El Jadida (the New City) in 1815. The Portuguese built the fortified city, which originally had five bastions, although, today, only four remain. You can reach them by taking a perfectly preserved path around the battlements. The Bastion of the Angel provides a good view of the town, the port and the sea. The Saint-Sébastien bastion has a crude chapel from the Inquisition. A ramp allows you to go down to the Porte de la Mer. This slope going down to the water was used to escape by the Portuguese in 1769. By going back up on the main street you can access the Portuguese cistern. By continuing the walk you will come across the church of the Assumption opposite a mosque with a unique minaret. It is probably the only pentagonal one in the world.
A series of underground chambers, discovered by accident, the mysterious cistern, built in 1514 by the Portuguese, may have been used as an arsenal or as a store before being transformed into a cistern to be used during sieges. Its surprising Gothic architecture represents a square room of 1100m² supported by five rows of columns and a vaulted ceiling. In the centre, a shaft of light has been opened up. Having been forgotten, it was rediscovered by accident in 1916 by a shopkeeper who wanted to enlarge his premises. This room has served as the set for many films, including the famous Othello by Orson Welles.
Falconry: This local Doukkala tradition goes back to the Middle Ages. It appears that the best falconers come from the Lakouassem region and from the village of Ouled Frej. This type of hunting has always been reserved for the nobility. It is possible to watch practices and demonstrations in several locations. This is the case at Moulay-Abdallah moussem, one example of the region's numerous festivals.
In addition to the attractive, pleasant and safe beaches on the coast to the south and north of El Jadida, Azemmour is the former capital of the Doukkala region, located at the mouth of the Oum Errabia river, which is renowned for its succulent shad (cousin of the sardine). Boulâouane - take the Nationale 1 road then the Régionale 315. In this famous wine-making region, you will find the imposing rectangular kasbah of Boulâouane. Constructed in 1710 by Moulay Ismaïl, it has seven bastions, crenellated walls and a tall square tower.
The calm waters off the beach allow all water sports to be enjoyed safely, ranging from windsurfing, water-skiing through to jet-skiing; except for Sidi Bouzid, which is a globally recognized surfing spot. An environment which is also perfect for learning to sail in small boats - there is a school in the fishing port of El Jadida. Along the beaches or in the forests, riding is very popular as it is particularly enjoyed in the region. Furthermore, the town is home to one of the country's five national stud farms and every October there is a horse show in the Lalla Malika hippodrome. And the golf courses here are set in superb countryside. The El Jadida Royal Golf Club has a sumptuous 18-hole course set in countryside which varies between scented pine forests and holes overlooking the ocean.
Where to stay
The Dar al Manar is a high quality guest house located in the countryside outside El Jadida.