Photographer's Note

I hesitated posting another one of my never ending series of Morocco, so I browsed for a while until I decided taking a look of the ones I haven't yet processed. I have this habit of trying to look more carefully at the photos only after I have post processed a bunch of them. I do that with scans also and that's the main reason I have relatively few photos decent enough to post and my insistence on the Morocco series.

This one was a nice surprise (I am hoping you feel the same, let's see), as I never thought that anything decent could came up when I shot it without any tripod with that light. Now I regret not having tried shooting some more.

The place is one of the main attractions of the Portuguese Citadel (locals refer to it as Cité Portugaise when they use French). It's greatest glory in more recent decades was being used for filming some scenes of Orson Welles film Othello. In the past it served as a room where the government of the city worked, as depot of arms and finally as a cistern. Strange story, using such an impressive gothic room as a cistern, but after all, this was an occupied city that was frequently sieged by enemy armies, so a large reserve of water was something of great strategic importance.

The Portuguese Citadel is like a small town inside a huge heavy walled castle built in the early 16th century, just after the town was conquered by the Portuguese, who were having their glory days then. Having started by conquering Ceuta in 1415, one century later they controlled most of the more important Atlantic ports of Morocco, from Ceuta and Tangier to Agadir. On every of those ports, they built powerful fortresses that were crucial to assure the defence with reduced forces (many believe that there weren't much more than a million Portuguese in the 16th century). Fortresses like the one of El Jadida (that was called Mazagão by the Portuguese and later Mazagan by the French) existed (some of them still exist) all over the coasts of Africa, Brazil, Uruguai, the actual Oman, Iran, India (mainly the West side), Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China and perhaps other places in the Indian Ocean.

The citadel of El Jadida is said to be the more well preserved Portuguese fortresses of that time, or at least the one where it's still more evident its Portuguese origin. I guess that one of the reasons of this fact is that the town was practically abandoned after the Portuguese fled in late 18th century and it only regained some importance in the 20th century. It is classified by Unesco as World Heritage Site. Quite frankly, it's a bit disappointing, at least for anyone who isn't Portuguese and/or isn't too interested in History. Nevertheless, I found interesting strolling its streets, still much "Portuguese" in the architecture, but at the same time already very Moroccan - every house that isn't completely ruined, which is a common event, is habited and there is much more life in the streets, namely because there are children, than in old parts of Portuguese towns and villages. I know that the distance to Portugal isn't that much, but apart from that and much similarities on some landscapes, Morocco is quite a different culture, so the impact is almost the same as finding something familiar in a much more distant place.

The town of El Jadida proper is rather modern, the citadel being the only noticeable antiquity, but it's a rather pleasant seaside town, bordered by a long sandy beach and it's easy to understand why it is a popular destination for the summer beach holidays of many Moroccans. Foreigners are quite rare, at least in August, and I think that the vast majority of them only comes here to visit the citadel.

I have posted a two views of the citadel, one as a WS of this post and more recently one as a post. On that post there is also view of the fishing port and the beach of the town.

Links to more info: Unesco World Heritage, Wikipedia, Lexicorient.

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Additional Photos by Jose Pires (stego) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4422 W: 612 N: 7301] (24132)
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