Wylde World: El Jadid, Morocco

Words and pictures by Leanne Bracey

Venturing into the old Medina of El Jadid, Morocco, near Casablanca, is like stepping back in time. Old ladies sit street-side, begging, chatting, shielding their faces from the sun and from tourists like me. A myriad of locals still dressed in typical Moroccan djellabas contrast with those who wear modern dress.

Shop-owners nonchalantly hang about outside their shops, polishing leather bags for sale, smoking and cajoling people into buying another brightly coloured pot for their spices. Mothers go about their household chores, doing the daily washing and taking their freshly-kneaded dough to the central baker for it to be baked in an authentic oven.

Cats curl up in fabrics for sale in local shops or simply bask in the sunlight. Children play hide and seek in doorways and the tight backstreets with their friends. Young lovers take a stroll along the fortress walls whilst teenagers hang about on corners fiddling with their mobile phones.

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When the sun is bright and the sky is blue, well-preserved yet slightly crumbling buildings cast wonderful shadows that would inspire many a photographer.

Portuguese settlers made their home in El Jadid on their way to Africa back in the 16th Century. Built as a fortified colony, its architecture is Renaissance in style. The Cistern is still the biggest architectural pull in El Jadid, with it's cavernous Gothic archways, thin skim of water on the floor and light pouring in from the roof holes, you can see why film directors like to use this as a location (Orson Welles filmed some scenes from 'Othello' here).

 

The medina was rebuilt after being destroyed by the Portuguese in 1769 when the city was abandoned but soon became a melting pot for Muslims, Christians and Jews and was renamed El Jadida.

DAVID NEWTON