Essaouira Mogador is a town at the Atlantic coast of Morocco

En langue française


The Island of Mogador

Les îles purpuraires

جزيرة موكادور Jazīra Mūkādūr

MOgador Island

The Mogador Bay is almost closed by the large Island of Mogador, making it a relatively peaceful harbour protected against the strong winds of the area and it has long been considered as one of the best anchorages of the Moroccan coast. Also for access to fresh water. The supply of building-stones and wood facilitated the construction of fortifications.

Mogador Island (Essaouira) has one of the oldest human presence in Morocco (~8000 years). Successively named "Terne", "Tamuziga", or "Purpuraire island", it was also known by phoenician and romans.


The Island of Mogador 1764

Notice the passage between the Island of Mogador and the mainland.

Map of Mogador Bay from 1767 with
Relief shown by shading. Depths shown by soundings.
(Plano y perfil del Puerto de Mogodor )

Ile de Mogador , un patrimoine universel à préserver.

This video is made by students from Lycee Mohammed V, Essaouira, at the occasion of International Day for Biological Diversity, 22 May 2014,
with the theme Island biodiversity.

Old map drawn by Theodore Cornut in 1767

The map of Theodore Cornut from 1767 shows the bay of Essaouira with
the Island of Mogador, the port with Castelo Real (Chateau) and the new Kasbah Medina.

Island of Mogador

In the 6th century BC, the Phoenicians founded a settlement at the island
and they named it Migdal , Migdol ("watchtower").

The Romans were interested of the site because of the rich fishing waters and its famous seashell,"Murex" from which a valuable purple dye was produced.
The King of Maurtania, Juba II (48BC - AD 23), sent a contingent to "the Purple Island" (Iles Purpuraires) to re-establish the ancient Phoenician dye manufacturing process.

Show the map Essaouira Natural bigger.

On the island of Mogador was built the Borj El Assa (surveillance bastion).

There are six old bastions built in stone on the island. 4 late 18th century construction of defensive fortresses constructed by the Sultan Sidi MOhammed ben Abdallah and 2 others by Moulay Abderrahmane.

There is also a mosque and a prison which was built in 1897 by order of the Sultan Moulay Abdelaziz to lock up the rebels of Rhamna tribe ( Terhamla tribe -Tahar Ben Souleiman and his men) . After a few months of detention, by digging a tunnel under the perimeter wall, they will manage to escape but most will drown before reaching the shore.

The first secret prison for political prisoners before Dar Bricha and Tazmamart is the Purpuraires Islands in Essaouira


The open air prison also served as accomodation for the pilgrims who used to come from Mecca,
" The house of Quarantine" and they used to live ther for 40 days in order to learn about who was sick.

A fort on the Island of Mogador

Rusty canons in a late stone fortification. Bastion of the mosque.

The prison of the island of Mogador

The prison
A rectangular wall sufficient high with with only one way in and out.
No roof.

Mogador Islandf fort

Mogador Island


Berber prisoners

MOGADOR - Berber prisoners taken to prison on the Island of Mogador,
by the order of Sultan Abdul Aziz (Sultan of Morocco 1878-1943)

Captured by the French, Haddou Ben Hammou Lakhal was exiled to the island of Essaouira in 1926, where he spent the rest of his life until 1950. Haddou Hamou Lakhal, the first fighter fighter pilot (resistance) in Morocco, was born in 1888 in the Rif area. He participated in the War of the Riffians and the forces of Spain and France (1921-1926) and was captured in 1927 by the French. He was imprisoned in the city of Essaouira until his death in 1950.
Read more here
(Internal link)

.The prison and mosque on the Island of Mogador

Source -link for this picture: photos-des-rares-moments-de-lhistoire.html


The prison gateway wiht doors

The 4 prison gates.
The only entry or exit was through these doors.


The mosque on the island of Mogador

The mosque on the Big Island

The mosque

Boy on a bation on the Island of Mogador

Today the island is a nature reserv and has a great bio-ecologigal importance.
A number of different species of birds breed here among thoose the internationally protected
Eleonora's Falcon on its way to wintering in Madagascar.
Returning in April and May.
Endangered species:    Eleonora's Falcon
The Hellenic Ornithological Society

Endangered species: Eleonora's Falcon

8 more species are regarded as rare

fauvette nélanocéphale
goéland leucophée
grand cormoran
faucon crécerelle
faucon pèlerin
grand corbeau
martinet pâle
pigeon bise.

The islands are inhabited and access forbidden to preserve the undisturbed environment for the breeding bird population. There is a conservationist keeping eye of this rare eco system.
For birdspotting tours can be made by boat around the islands but entering the islands requires a special permission.

Birds in Essaouira with birdwatching spots.

Liens externes françaises:



Map of the Islands of Mogador


The archeological value of the islands is unmeasurable for learning about prehistoric settlements and the way of life of native populations. Studying the fortifications we learn about ancient methods of construction adapted to the supply of local building materials and natural external conditions. The Phoenician, Romans, Portugeese and the Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdellah - all contributed to make the Island of Mogador a strategic stronghold for defense, trade and for further exploration of Africa and the Americas.

Punic vase found on the island

Punic vase found on the island.


Amphoras found in the waters between the island of Mogador and the island of Pharaon.
300 - 400 AD
(The Sidi Mohammaed ben Abdallah museum, Essaouira)

Mention should also be made of Koeberlé and Desjacques, teachers of the European School who had become amateur archaeologists, and had made a historic archaeological discovery on the island of Mogador.

"Hence the reason and the importance of the archaeological research program launched on this site by a Moroccan-German scientific team within the framework of bilateral cooperation in the cultural field which unites the National Institute of Archaeological Sciences and Heritage (INSAP) and the departments of the German Institute for Archaeological Research (Deutsches Archaologisches Institut) in Bonn and Madrid."

"The main objective of this program is the study of the Island of Mogador and the ancient occupations it has known, namely the Phoenician occupation dating from the 7th or 6th century BC, the Mauritanian occupation, the phase of Juba II and finally the Roman occupation which ended towards the end of the 3rd century AD", confided to Map, Mr. Mikdad Abdeslem, teacher researcher at INSAP and co-director of this research program. "

Phoenician plate with red slip, 7th century BC

Phoenician plate with red slip, 7th century BC, excavated in Mogador island, Essaouira, Morocco


Attack of the Mosque on Mogador island 1844

REead about The French



The small islands

Azrou Aylal

Jarf Aylal


The small island

Dzira Sghira (Djira Sghira)

The scala of this island was constructed in 1836 (1258 Hegira )
by Hadj Mohammed Toufeelaaz.
All the canons of this small fort was thrown into the sea
by the French when they bombarded the town in 1844
M.OQBA/Essaouira La Seductrice 2007

Fort de la petit ile, Mogador

In total there are 8 batteries spread over the six islands that face the town.

Mogador Dzira Sghira

Bastion on small island Mogador


L’Ile de Mogador, un site écologique gorgé d’histoire,
symbolisant la richesse et l’authenticité de la ville d’Essaouira
Facebook: Association Essaouira Mogador


Essaouira’s Coastal Heritage, Morocco (MarEA 1st September 2020)

Moroccan Royal Archives Twitter


Mogador Island (Wikiwand)

dzira mougador, Ile de mogador,


The Island of Mogador

External links


Juba II

Eleonora's Falcon