The fortified city of Mazagan or “Mazagao” was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and thus became the first Portuguese colony in Africa. This occupation came to an end two centuries later, in 1769, when the city was recovered by Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdallah (Mohammed III).
Before their negotiated departure, the Portuguese mined the bastions, whereupon a tremendous explosion caused a high death toll among the Moroccan troops just upon their arrival, hence its nickname “El Mahdouma” (the ruined). In 1822, the city was restored under the reign of Sultan Moulay Abdelrahman who gave her a new name “El Jadida” (the New).
With a new stature as port and commercial pole, El Jadida attracted a mass of inhabitants mainly Moroccan Jewish and English people from Gibraltar, all settled in a common city neighborhood named “El Mallah”.
Under the French protectorate, the city expanded and had, among other facilities, a municipal theater ranked then third of Morocco. In June 2004, El Jadida old Mazagan city, was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, in recognition of its authenticity and multicultural stature.
Nowadays, El Jadida is one of Morocco's tourism pearls thanks to its various historical monuments and its great “National Haras”, National Stud Farm, and its famous “Fantasia” (yearly horsemanship festival) which, in turn, was inscribed by UNESCO as Human Cultural Heritage in December 2021.