MOROCCO | Three Hours in Salé, a Rabat Side Trip

Friday, February 15, 2019

Sale Medina Morocco

Should we go? That was the question we were trying to answer as we dilly-dallied whether to cross the street onto the tram platform or go back the way we came. The town of Salé was only a few minutes away by tram, and why we were debating on whether we should visit or not, baffled even us. The deciding point was the tram fare, a measly MAD 6.00 (USD 0.60). We went.

ATYPICAL ALLEY IN SALE

Salé literally sits right beside Rabat, separated only by the Bou Regreg River. It is more of a residential city than Rabat, in fact, most people who work in Rabat lives in Salé. But surprisingly, tourists who visit Rabat, hardly ever take a quick side trip to Salé. Being indecisive ourselves, I really can’t tell why. Besides being older and more historic than Rabat, it’s just there!

 

 

GETTING THERE

  FARE: MAD 6.00 (USD 0.60) | OPENING HOURS: 6:00AM TO 10:00PM


Right after visiting the Hassan Tower, on the second day of our Rabat three day tour, we took the Rabat-Salé Tram to get to Salé. There are several stations along the two cities and we were fortunate that one of them is walking distance away from the tower.

Fare is extremely cheap at a flat rate of MAD 6.00, and the trams are as modern as those we’ve ridden previously during our four days in Casablanca. It took around ten minutes for us to reach the famed Bab Mrissa—Salé’s iconic gate and one of Morocco’s oldest—which we mistakenly failed to alight on. And another couple of minutes to the Gare de Salé Station, the eastern end of the old medina, where we finally got off.

Sale Morocco Day Trip Tram
TAKING THE TRAM FROM RABAT TO SALE

Sale Morocco Day Trip Tram
FARE IS EXTREMELY CHEAP AT MAD 6.00

Sale Morocco Day Trip Bab Mrissa
BAB MRISSA, SALE’S ICONIC GATE ~ PHOTO BY BERTRAMZ, WIKICOMMONS

Sale Morocco Day Trip Medina
A LESSER GATE TO THE MEDINA

 

 

SALÉ OLD MEDINA

  ADDRESS: N1 HIGHWAY, SALE | ENTRANCE FEE: NONE | OPENING HOURS: 24 HOURS | GPS COORDINATES MAP: 34.0404108,-6.8324255


We started exploring Sale’s Old Medina from its back part, entering a nameless gate on its eastern corner. This medina is older than Rabat’s, it was founded by Arab-speaking Berbers in 1030, was made a republic by Barbary pirates during the 17th century, and was bombarded by a fleet of French ships in 1629 before becoming a part of the rest of Morocco. In fact, when Rabat was founded, it was named after Salé—Salé la Neuve or New Salé.

The medina has a very relaxed atmosphere, it’s exactly like one huge residential village with narrow alleys for roads. Kids playing along the streets, mothers cleaning rugs, small neighborhood stores selling all sorts of stuff that’s not made for us tourists, and colorful markets where you’d hardly find any I ♥ Morocco shirts. This is actually where we finally got our Moroccan bearings and started to get more confident in walking around Morocco.

Sale Morocco Day Trip Medina
WHITE WALLS, NARROW ALLEYS, WELCOME TO THE OLD SALE MEDINA

Sale Morocco Day Trip MedinaSale Morocco Day Trip Medina
SALE HAS A MUCH MORE FRIENDLIER ATMOSPHERE

Sale Morocco Day Trip Medina Souk
A COVERED SOUK SPECIALIZING IN JEWELRIES

Sale Morocco Day Trip Medina
SANDALS ON SALE

Sale Morocco Day Trip Medina Market
SCENE AT A LOCAL VEGETABLE MARKET

 

 

THE GREAT MOSQUE OF SALE

  ADDRESS: RUE MASJID AL AADAM, OLD MEDINA, SALE | OPEN: ONLY TO MUSLIMS | GPS COORDINATES MAP: 34.040316, -6.827578


Our main target in visiting the Salé Medina is its Great Mosque. It is the oldest mosque this side of Morocco and the third biggest in the country—superseded only by Casablanca’s gargantuan Hassan II Mosque and Fes’ University of al-Qarawiyyin. We flitted from one narrow alley to another, turning left, turning right, and more than a couple of time, turning back the way we came, as we follow a single blue dot on Google Maps. It was actually an excellent way of seeing a cross-section of the Slawis’, the people of Sale’s, day to day lives.

Eventually we reached the walls of the mosque. The alleys are so narrow that we can hardly see the tall minaret that we could see all the way from Rabat’s Kasbah of the Oudayas the day before. Circling the white walls of the mosque, we finally got a glimpse. We knew we couldn’t enter the mosque itself but we were lucky we were given a chance to see its spacious courtyard.

Sale Morocco Day Trip Great Mosque
CIRCLING THE WALLS OF THE MOSQUE

Sale Morocco Day Trip Great Mosque
A GLIMPSE OF THE MINARET

Sale Morocco Day Trip Great Mosque
INSIDE THE GREAT MOSQUE’S COURTYARD

Sale Morocco Day Trip Great Mosque Madrasa
THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE GREAT MOSQUE, AND BESIDE IT, THE DOOR TO THE MADRASA

 

 

MARINID MADRASSAH OF SALÉ

  ADDRESS: AKBA DE LA MEDERSA, OLD MEDINA, SALE | ENTRANCE FEE: MAD 10.00 (USD 1.00) | GPS COORDINATES MAP: 34.039892, -6.827287
  OPENING HOURS: 10:00AM TO 1:00PM, 3:00PM TO 6:00PM, CLOSED ON SUNDAYS


And as a reward for our persistence we found an adjacent madrasa open for tourists. A madrasa is sort of like a school or learning center. The Marinid Madrasa of Salé was not your ordinary school though. Built in 1333, its central hall is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

Enameled zelliges cover the floor, carved cedar woods and plaster friezes line the walls. The columns are heavily decorated, and the roof is covered with glazed tiles. The intricacy of its ornamentation was mind blowing. Something you wouldn’t assume from its austere exterior.

We wended our way up the structure, gingerly circling its dark, extremely narrow hallways and dizzying stairwells until we reached its zenith at the third floor. We paused, took a panoramic bird’s eye view of Salé’s old medina from a slit of a window, and went back down and out to the street below. We then retraced our way back from where we came from and inevitably got lost along the alleys of Salé.

Sale Morocco Day Trip Marinid Madrasa Sale
THE COURT OF THE MARINID MADRASA OF SALE

Sale Morocco Day Trip Marinid Madrasa Sale
EXTREMELY INTRICATE DECORATIONS

Sale Morocco Day Trip Marinid Madrasa Sale Stairs
A MAZE OF STAIRWELL

Sale Morocco Day Trip Marinid Madrasa Sale Hallway
THE DIM HALLWAYS CAN FIT EXACTLY A SINGLE PERSON

Sale Morocco Day Trip Marinid Madrasa Sale Courtyard
A SMALL ATRIUM AT THE SECOND AND THIRD LEVEL

 

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1 comments

  1. I wish I could travel the world.......... thanks for the dream

    ReplyDelete