Essaouira is located in a bay protected by the large island of Mogador and has long been considered as one of the best anchorages of the Moroccan coast. It is an outstanding and well preserved example of a late 18th century European fortified seaport town and is designated a UNESCO site. When the Portuguese established a commercial presence here in the 16th century, they built a fort and naval base at the entrance of the harbour and proceeded to control Mogador, as they called the town, for over a century. The Portuguese fort still stands. With the opening up of Morocco to the rest of the world in the later17th century Essaouira was laid out by a French architect and it has retained its European appearance to a substantial extent.