The Portuguese fortification of Mazagan, now part of the city of El Jadida, 90-km southwest of Casablanca, was built as a ... More
Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida)
The Portuguese fortification of Mazagan, now part of the city of El Jadida, 90-km southwest of Casablanca, was built as a fortified colony on the Atlantic coast in the early 16th century. It was taken over by the Moroccans in 1769. The fortification with its bastions and ramparts is an early example of Renaissance military design. The surviving Portuguese buildings include the cistern and the Church of the Assumption, built in the Manueline style of late Gothic architecture. The Portuguese City of Mazagan - one of the early settlements of the Portuguese explorers in West Africa on the route to India - is an outstanding example of the interchange of influences between European and Moroccan cultures, well reflected in architecture, technology, and town planning.
The main street of the Cite Portugaise has all the tourist shops, but it also has the Citerne which, when it was rediscovered, added a "1001 nights" touch to the place. At the end of this street lies the entrance to the top of the encircling rampart, which allows several good views of the port, the Jewish Cemetary, the Cite Portugaise, the beach, and the city of El Jadida in general.
Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Cite Portugaise also contains a couple of old churches, one of which is a community center, and the other even has residents! But the best part of visiting this compact area is exploring the narrow streets and observing people performing their normal acts of daily living, many of which take place on the streets themselves. Some of the houses have been updated by resident foreigners, but most are as they have been for perhaps hundreds of years, albeit with electricity and maybe running water added.
You can spend an interesting afternoon here, or if you are really into old Portugese outposts, an even larger and perhaps more interesting one is the Cite Portugaise in the nearby town of Azemmour. Best way to get there is by 'grand taxi' which leaves from beside the bus station. The trip takes about 20 minutes. But a word to the wise is to pay for 2 places so as not to be too crowded.
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