The Medina of Essaouira, formerly named Mogador, is an outstanding example of a fortified town of the mid-eighteenth century, surrounded by a wall influenced by the Vauban model. It has played a major role over the centuries as an international trading seaport, linking Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa with Europe and the rest of the world. The town is also an example of a multicultural center as proven by the coexistence, since its foundation, of diverse ethnic groups, such as the Amazighs, Arabs, Africans, and Europeans as well as multi-confessional (Muslim, Christian and Jewish).
The Medina is home to many small arts and crafts businesses, notably cabinet making and ‘thuya’ wood-carving, both of which have been practiced in Essaouira for centuries.
Essaouira presents itself as a city full of culture: several small art galleries are found all over the town. Since 1998, the Gnaoua Festival of World Music is held in Essaouira, normally in May. It brings together artists from all over the world. Although focused on gnaoua music, it includes rock, jazz and reggae.