Cité Portugaise

Historic Site in El Jadida

Inscribed on Unesco's World Heritage list in 2004, the Cité Portugaise was one of the early settlements built by the Portuguese in West Africa. Dating from the early 16th century and originally called Mazagan, it is a fine example of Renaissance military design. Hefty, ochre-coloured ramparts in a loose star shape protect a compact maze of streets, the architecturally notable Church of the Assumption – now converted into a hotel – and an atmospheric cistern.

The main entrance of the cité is just off Place Mohammed Ben Abdallah and leads into Rue Mohammed Ahchemi Bahbai. Immediately on the left is the former church and almost next door is the Grand Mosque, with its unique pentagonal-shaped minaret.

Further down Rue Mohammed Ahchemi Bahbai is the Porte de la Mer, the original sea gate where ships unloaded their cargo and from where the Portuguese finally departed. To the left of the gate, through the archway, is a communal bakery where local women still bring their bread to be baked.

To the right of the sea gate, a ramp leads up to the ramparts and, in the southeast corner, the Bastion de L’Ange, an excellent vantage point with views out to sea and over the new town and port. Walk along the ramparts to the left to reach the Bastion de St Sébastian, in the northeast corner, from where you can look down on the ruined synagogue.

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