Essaouira is an outstanding and well-preserved example of a late 18th century Europan fortified seaport town translated to a North African continent. With the opening up of Morocco to the rest of the world in the later 17th century, the town was laid out by a French architect who had been profoundly influenced by the work of Vauban at Saint-Malo. It has retained its European appearance to a substancial extent. Since its foundation in the 18th century and until the beginning of the 20th century, Essaouira has played a fundamental role as an international reading port between Morocco and the rest of the world. A number of consulates and traders from different countries were established there. UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.