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Always a central place, Moulay Hassan Square is a meeting place, a dating place, a waiting place, a wandering spot, a place of exchanges and comings and goings. It opens unto the car park where streams of visitors turn up and necessarily go through it and it also opens unto the harbour that the town is renowned for.
The square lives according to the rhythm of these comings and goings: sailors newly disembarked from their trawlers or from their long liners with their rubber boots and fishing equipment, dazzled tourists, residents looking for acquaintances. With its welcoming cafes’ terraces, its patisseries, among which Driss’ patisserie that opened in 1930, its little snack bars, its Italian ice cream shop, its bookshops and tourist shops and its hotels, the square is a place for everyone irrespective of any social background.
There is nothing like spending a moment in the shade of a terrace or under the hundred years old rubber trees which are a symbol of the town, or lounging on the Chefchaouen place with its cafes facing the harbour and the sunset.
Secret passages open unto amazing little neighbouring districts with dark vaulted alleys and unto an alleyway that runs along the ramparts towards the Atlantic Scala. The Moulay Hassan Square is the true hub and heart of the town.
Here, life goes on until very late into the night and even later on windless days : families dawdling on, children playing ball under their parents’ watchful eyes, little shoe-shiners, sellers of watches and sunglasses, musicians and acrobats, cakes and a thousand more things liven up the terraces under the eyes of the famous rubber trees. They are not ficus trees as we have heard so often coming from the mouths of tourists’ guides, residents or tourists: let’s render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar!
They are majestic trees with their whitewashed trunks that keep harmful insects at bay; they have been recently pruned and they are full of starlings chirping away at dusk, making an incredible rumpus.
It is an essential site in the town to be discovered through pictures that reflect changes as the years went by.
The old Law Courts, now rearranged into an exhibition room, sits imposingly amongst the bars; the basketball hall is again an old administration hall. Not so long ago, cars drove or parked on the place and the CTM, the first coach company, had its boarding point there.
In the last ten years, fish stalls, all painted in white and blue, have moved to the right hand side along the Atlantic going towards the harbour and to the left hand side next to the car park.
Changes and conversions have taken place but the square remains the same in spirit: a place of peace, of strolling around and a meeting place for those who come to admire and photograph the sunset on the harbour and on its neighbouring island. Not to mention other inhabitants of the town: Essaouira cats that seem to gather here at certain times in the day, sitting benevolently or on the lookout for something delicious to eat.