El Jadida

On the Atlantic coast south of Casablanca lie a string of fascinating towns with exotic histories, El Jadida (Mazagan) is the site of Punic Rubisis and the Portuguese fort of El Brija el Jadida (The New Little Port). It is now a relaxed sea resort much favoured by Moroccans themselves.

The town, built by the Portuguese evolved from a fortress, the Citadel, whose construction started around 1513. It was one of the most important outposts for the Portuguese navigators beating their way under sail round Africa to reach the fabled Indies.
The ramparts remain with their five bastions. A trip within the walls is a journey back in time with wrought-iron balconies still remaining, gleaming canons sitting just as they were left, gates bearing the escutcheons of the Portuguese kings, a lighthouse now transformed into a mosque, a hospital and prison and a deconsecrated church.

Most fascinating, however, was the discovery made last century by a shopkeeper quarrying to extend his premises. He found a remarkable giant Portuguese cistern or reservoir, a jewel of vaulted gothic architecture. This underground wonder of the 16th century is believed to have housed munitions and also served as a fencing academy. Light from shafts above play on the thin film of water below and made it a must for movie-makers, notably Orson Welles in his film of Othello.

El Jadida Royal Golf Club is situated amid beautiful green, wooded countryside close to the sea.