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The Mellah- Jewish Quarter

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The Mellah- Jewish quarter


Basic Information

Location N31 31 0.012 W9 46 9.984
Country Morocco
City Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador)

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/753
Geographical Coordinates 31.51563,-9.76886


mellah (Arabic ملاح, probably from the word ملح, Arabic for "salt" or מלח, Hebrew for "salt" (both pronounced "melach") is a walled Jewish quarter of a city in Morocco, analogous to the European ghetto. Jewish population were confined to mellahs in Morocco beginning from the 15th century and especially since the early 19th century. It first was seen as a privilege and a protection against the Arabs' attacks in the region, but with the growing of the population, it then became a poor and miserable place. With the colonization and the arrival of the Europeans at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the mellah opened and gave new economical and social possibilities to the Moroccan Jews. In cities, a mellah was surrounded by a wall with a fortified gateway. Usually, the Jewish quarter was situated near the royal palace or the residence of the governor, in order to protect its inhabitants from recurring riots since its inhabitants played a vital role in the local economy. In contrast, rural mellahs were separate villages inhabited solely by the Jews.

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