Along the Atlantic coast, at around 106 km south of Casablanca lies the quaint city of El Jadida. This port city is mostly frequented by Moroccan tourists, however international travelers find this as an offbeat destination. The laid back beach life, historic sites and lip smacking sea foods score high among El Jadida visitors. Adorned by historic Portuguese structures, the city sets a perfect example of concoction of European and Moroccan cultures.
Earlier known by the Berbers as “Mazighen”, El Jadida was seized by the Portuguese in 15th century who took control over this coastal town and constructed a citadel and a large fortification before abandoning it by 17th century. The ruined, uninhabited city was later taken over by Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah and being rebuilt by Sultan Abd al-Rahman as El Jadida. On your trip to Morocco pay a visit to El Jadida and enjoy its charm.
- Cité Portugaise
This historic site near the medina of El Jadida is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a live example of Renaissance military design. It consists of four bastions namely Angel, Holy Spirit, San Sebastian and St. Anthony. This setup in El Jadida is one of the first settlements in West Africa for Portuguese explorers on their way to India and offers an exceptional testimony to the cross influences between European and Moroccan cultures. Your Morocco vacation is incomplete if you have not clicked pictures with Cité Portugaise in the backdrop.
- La Citerne Portugaise
Located on Rue Hachmi Bahbah of the cité, in midst the souvenir shops, is this atmospheric vaulted cistern lit by a single shaft of light. Built in the early 16th century, it is famous as the mysterious location for the dramatic riot scene in Orson Welles’ 1951 film “Othello”. A visit to this site will take you back to the historic past of this coastal town.
- Church of the Assumption
This church in El Jadida is one of the most prominent surviving Portuguese structures built in early 16th century. A square impressive bell tower rises from the pale walls and a triangular pitched roof covers the arched main entrance. This piece of Manueline architecture is no longer in use as a place of worship and is used as a theatre hall instead. Serving as a prominent landmark to the tourist, this cannot be missed on your trip to Morocco.
- Sidi Bou Afi Lighthouse
Standing tall at a height of 150 ft, this iconic lighthouse serves a major tourist attraction in El Jadida. Constructed by the prisoners of war during the 1st World War, the pale circular tower can be seen from far and wide. The powerful light atop the tower acts as a beacon and warning sign for sea-faring vessels since it became functional in 1916. Don’t forget to visit this historic site on your Morocco vacation.
- El Jadida Synagogue
The Bensimon Synagogue of this port city defies time. Built around 1922, his place of worship, also called Shaar Hashamaim, was built in memory of Sulika Sarah from notable Jewish community in El Jadida. The sandy colored structure matches the color of the citadel’s imposing walls with the curved roof embellished in decorative plasterwork. With a Star of David on its façade, this ruined structure offers a piece of history to the tourists.
- Portuguese City Mosque
Known for its unique pentagonal shaped minaret, this Islamic place of worship is not open for non-Muslims. The impressive minaret of this mosque can be visible from any corner of the city and acts as a prominent landmark of El Jadida. It is said that this minaret is a converted lighthouse.
- Theatre Afifi
Located on Avenue Mohamed VI, this theatre is a lovely example of colonial style architecture in El Jadida. Built in early 1900s, the pale outer walls dazzle in the sunshine and the lovely surrounding square adds to the building’s grandeur. Visitors can take leisurely stroll along the surrounding garden which is shaded with lot of trees and greenery. The fountain in the vicinity gets illuminated in the evening, adding magic to this wonderful structure.