10 Best Sights in Salé, Rabat and Casablanca

Complexe des Potiers

Fodor's choice

Salé has long been known throughout the country, and beyond, for its local pottery. At this particular complex (just off the road toward Fez, to the right after the river from Rabat) visitors can browse through a whole series of pottery shops, each with its own style; you might also get the chance to chat with a potter or maybe even try your own hand at clay work. Other crafts have been added as well, notably bamboo and straw work and mosaic-tile furnishings.

Jardins Exotiques

Fodor's choice

Just 10 km (6 miles) north of Salé, you'll find the extraordinary Jardins Exotiques, which were created in the mid-20th century by a Frenchman named Marcel François, who used to play classical music to his plants. Planned to represent different regions (like Polynesia, Brazil, or Japan), the gardens are a haven for birds and frogs. There are two circuits of different lengths and the walkways and bridges make this a wonderful playground and educational experience for children, too. Since François's death in 1999, the property has been maintained by the government and has recently been well restored. A touching autobiographical poem forms his epitaph at the entrance.

Many people combine a visit to the gardens with a day at the beach at Plage des Nations, another 10 km (6 miles) along the coast. A private taxi organized by your hotel costs 300 DH for the return trip, including the driver's wait while you explore the gardens. 

Abou el Hassan Merenid Medersa

Turn left around the corner of the Great Mosque, and you'll see on your right the Abou el Hassan Medersa. Built by the Merenid sultan of that name in the 14th century, it's a fine example of the traditional Koranic school. Like the Bou Inania in Fez or the Ben Youssef in Marrakesh, this madrassa has beautiful intricate plasterwork around its central courtyard, and a fine mihrab (prayer niche) with a ceiling carved in an interlocking geometrical pattern representing the cosmos. Upstairs, on the second and third floors, you can visit the little cells where the students used to sleep, and from the roof you can see the entire city.

Rue Ash al Shaiara, Salé, Morocco
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Battlements and Fortresses of Salé

A heavily fortified town for centuries, Salé still has many traces of its eventful history preserved within the old medina walls. Many landmarks in the area have been named as national heritage sites or monuments. Borj Bab Sebta is an 11th-century, square-shape fortress situated at the Sebta gate into the old medina. Borj Adoumoue, also called the Old Sqala, is an 18th-century bastion, where cannons gaze over the waters to this day. Nearby is Borj Roukni, also called Borj Kbira, or the large fortress, a semicircular, 19th-century edifice built to counter attacks by the French. There’s also a fantastic kasbah (although in need of preservation) known as the Gnawa Kasbah, built by Moulay Ismail in the 1700s. This lies near the beach 3km north of the medina and is now home to the National Circus School Shems'y.

Djemâa Kabir

A few steps from the tomb of Sidi Abdellah ben Hassoun is the great mosque known as Djemâa Kabir. Built by the Almohad dynasty in the 12th century, this beautiful structure is the third-largest mosque in Morocco, after the Hassan II in Casablanca and the Kairaouine in Fez. Non-Muslims cannot enter.

Zanqat Sidi Abdellah ben Hassoun, Salé, Morocco

Pirates' Prison (Borj Adoumoue)

The Borj Adoumoue, which means "fortress of tears," was a Pirates' Prison in the city walls of Salé and is now a museum. It was built by the Salé Rover pirates as their headquarters. Cannons pierce the walls and there are underground dungeons.

Av. Sidi Ben Achir, Salé, Salé, Morocco
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Sidi Abdellah ben Hassoun Tomb

One of the streets in Salé's medina is Zanqat Sidi Abdellah ben Hassoun—named after the town's patron saint. His magnificent tomb is situated here, next to the Great Mosque. He died in Salé in 1604.

Zanqat Sidi Abdellah ben Hassoun, Salé, Morocco

Sidi Ahmed ben Achir Tomb

Northwest of the medina, by the sea and next to the Pirates' Prison, is the tomb of Sidi Ahmed ben Achir, a much-venerated saint. If you look through the windows in the wall, there's a fine view of the rocks and the ocean.

Salé, Morocco

Souk Al Kabir

When you come out of the Abou el Hassan Merenid Medersa, turn right and take the first street on the right, heading farther into the medina. Turn left at the end of the street and you'll find a large triangular area on your right, the Souk Al Kabir, or Great Market, in the center of the medina.

Zaouia Tijania

Close to the Great Mosque (Djemâa Kabir) and the Abou el Hassan Merenid Medersa is the zaouia---a shrine to a Muslim saint of the Tijani order, a mystical Sufi sect founded by Shaykh Ahmad al-Tijani (1739–1815).