History of Mazagan, a city founded by the Portuguese
The Carthaginians already occupied the geographical location of present-day El Jadida since the fifth century BC.
It was at the very beginning of the sixteenth century that the Portuguese founded the city. At the time called Mazagan, a military fortress was built and a little later, a larger city surrounded by walls. These are the walls that can currently be seen in El Jadida.
The Portuguese city of El Jadida in Morocco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mazagan resisted the many assaults of the Moroccans and it was only at the end of the eighteenth century that the city fell under the control of Morocco. Before their departure, the Portuguese demolished/mined the city to the point that it was renamed El Mehdoûma (The Ruined) by Morocco.
A few decades later (early nineteenth century), the city was restored and it is at this time that it will be attributed its current name, El Jadida, which means "The New".
Visit El Jadida in Morocco and its Portuguese city
Although the historic center of El Jadida is rather small, it is beautiful. The different points of interest of the city gather around what was the Portuguese city, the historic heart of the city. If you plan to visit El Jadida during your trip to Morocco, it is primarily here that you must go!
Take the time to get lost in the alleys of the Portuguese city that looks like a medina. You can also walk on the ramparts of the city and enjoy a magnificent view of the rooftops of the Portuguese city and the ocean.
Do not miss the Portuguese cistern of El Jadida, an underground water reserve built during the construction of the Portuguese fortress in the early sixteenth century.
You can also walk on a dike near the old town of El Jadida. It is a bit of a meeting place for locals, especially at the end of the day, to enjoy the magical colors of the sunset.
You can also observe (preferably in the morning) the fishermen who go to sea. They use boats that strongly resemble those of Essaouira. Unlike the color, here in El Jadida, they are red!.
Getting to El Jadida in Morocco
As indicated at the beginning of this post, a hundred kilometers separate El Jadida from Casablanca.
If you are traveling to Casablanca, know that you can get to El Jadida by train. Departure from Casa Voyageurs train station. 1h20 drive approximately. Several departures per day. 35 Dh per person in the second class, and 50 Dh (5$) in the first class.
If your trip is longer, renting a car for your trip to Morocco is often the most comfortable solution. Indeed, some regions/cities of Morocco are not served by train. To reach El Jadida by car from Casablanca, the journey is very simple. Indeed, a highway connects these 2 cities. We will just have to get out of the chaos of Casablanca ;-) .
Where to stay in El Jadida?
As you will have understood, the ideal place to sleep in El Jadida is the Portuguese old town. This is the most charming and pleasant place to stay in El Jadida.
I know two addresses in the old town:
- If you are looking for a small Dar, simple but clean and your accommodation budget is limited, go to Dar El Jadida in the heart of the Portuguese city. The rooms are basic but it's very clean and the welcome is true to the reputation of Moroccan hospitality! Rate of about 25 euros per night in a double room with breakfast. Hard to do better:)
- if you want a more upscale, more refined address, only one place to remember: the Iglesia in the Portuguese city as well. This hotel is set in a former Spanish church in a Portuguese town. A really charming and very refined place. Count 120 euros per night in a double room approximately. With such a charm, in a town like Fez or Marrakech, it would take more than 200 euros per night ... If you have the budget, go for it! This is the nugget of El Jadida.
Relax in El Jadida
Beyond the historic center of El Jadida, this small town is ideal for resting and relaxing for a few days by the sea. A bit like the city of Asilah that I told you about some time ago on the blog.
Unlike a tourist town like Essaouira, El Jadida remains very authentic and there are far fewer tourists than in Essaouira.
Although located at the level of the Atlantic Ocean, it is much less exposed to the wind than Essaouira and you can therefore enjoy the beach. When I visited El Jadida in September, there were very few people in the city but also on the beach! It was very nice and the beach is rather long.
Finally, as with most coastal cities in Morocco, it is possible to eat many varieties of fish, freshly caught. There is also an excellent market near the historic center of El Jadida. It is possible to buy fresh fish to grill it. A delight!
The city is not huge, so I recommend staying there for 2 or 3 days. This is enough to discover and visit El Jadida and enjoy the beach and the calm of this charming little town.
What are the monuments of El Jadida not to be missed?
During your stay in this Portuguese city at Sidi Bouzid beach near Casablanca, here are some monuments that are definitely worth a visit, according to the reviews:
Portuguese tanksLocated in the heart of the Portuguese region of El Jadida near the center of Casablanca, the ancient cisterns are atmospheric, unusual, and perhaps a little strange. The large underground chamber was once part of the fortress, used as a warehouse to store weapons. It was later converted into a water storage facility.
Mazagan FortressThis fortress is the old Portuguese quarter of El Jadida. Stroll through the narrow streets and you'll discover that the area is quite similar to many other places in Morocco, instead of taking on a European look. Charming old houses line the narrow streets and the star-shaped fortress has high outer walls with rusty cannons always pointing outwards, ready to defend the center of the city.
Church of the AssumptionBesides Mazagan and Sidi Bouzid beach, there is the Church of Assumption. Located inside the walls of the fortress, the Church of the Assumption is one of the most beautiful buildings in El Jadida de Casablanca to have survived the era of Portuguese colonialism. The exterior has been carefully restored to show its splendor. It may be locked during your visit to the Mazagan area, but don't worry. The interiors and center are not as impressive as the exterior and show signs of aging.
What are the best hotels in El Jadida?
As for the cheap hotel in Casablanca to spend a night in good and better conditions near the beach Sidi Bouzid, according to the reviews, the must-sees in this Portuguese city Mazagan are:
Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort
Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort is a luxury hotel at a low price. An excellent choice for a beautiful night after your departure. It has a private beach, a golf course, and a casino, according to reviews. Enjoy a cheap dinner by the sea and relax with sun loungers and umbrellas. There's fun for all ages with a free kids' club and kids' pool, and barbecues are available on site.
Pullman Mazagan Royal Golf & Spa El Jadida
This luxury hotel near Bouzid Beach, close to the beach, at a low price, features a golf course, a spa with full treatments, and 3 restaurants. There's fun for all ages with a free kids' club and mini-golf, and inexpensive barbecues are available on site. Enjoy the outdoor pool and perks like free valet parking and free Wi-Fi during the time you spend the night after you leave for the center of Marrakech.
Riad Soleil d'Orient
A low-cost spa offering full treatments and a restaurant can be found in this non-smoking Riad. Relax in a hotel with a drink at the bar or lounge and enjoy perks like free breakfast and Wi-Fi. A terrace, a garden, and a low-cost dry cleaning service are also available after your departure for Marrakech.
What are the tourist tours to do in El Jadida?
For a stay in a cheap hotel at an amazing and unforgettable price, remember to make these tourist circuits to know the best activities after your stay in the largest hotels:
Walking around the Portuguese city
You can almost see the best of el Jadida morocco by simply walking through the heritage in this city. This is one of the activities not to be missed. It is a Moroccan and Arab city full of character and sights to see. You will see a lot of local markets, restaurants, cafes, and fishermen selling their catches. Many locals will be in this area of Morocco, especially on weekends in a beautiful hotels, according to reviews.
Surfing at the beach of Sidi Bouzid
Sidi Bouzid beach is an ideal beach for surfing or just swimming. It is a very beautiful seaside resort a few kilometers from the city. There are also many cafes, restaurants, and hotels in the area. If you just want to walk around, according to the reviews, visiting Morocco to see the sunset is the best idea for impeccable activities in a beautiful hotel because it looks really magical in this heritage.
Theatre Afifi in Morocco is not your ordinary theater, according to reviews. It is a heritage, according to the opinions. There is a place in front for you to picnic or just walk after the Marrakech. Meanwhile, inside the theater, you can see a glamorous interior design with a magnificent symphony orchestra and many musical performances that you can attend during your stay in this Portuguese area.