Morocco // The Atlantic coast: Rabat to Essaouira //

The Cité Portugaise

El Jadida’s Medina is the most European-looking in Morocco: a quiet, walled and bastioned seaside village, with a handful of churches. It was founded by the Portuguese in 1513, and retained by them until 1769, and it is still popularly known as the Cité Portugaise. As they withdrew, the Portuguese blew up several of the churches and other important buildings. The Moors who settled here after the Portuguese withdrawal tended to live outside the walls. Budgett Meakin, writing in the 1890s (see General and travel), found an “extensive native settlement” spreading back from the harbour, while European merchants had re-established themselves in the “clean, prosperous and well-lighted streets” of the Medina. As in all the open ports on this coast, there was also an important Jewish community handling the trade with Marrakesh; uniquely, old Mazagan had no separate Jewish Mellah.

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