Salé is an ancient city located right across the Bou Regreg river from Rabat, the capital of Morocco. While it is not very popular a city among tourists, it does have some undeniable historic attractions.
Take a stroll along the Atlantic coastline and the city walls surrounding Salé, passing by the bustling Medina, and in the end you might find yourself standing before an old cannon and the entrance to a forgotten fortress that still remembers the very origin of these walls.
In the 13th century, a fleet of Spaniards, possibly Castilians, came from across the ocean and raided the city, killing many and capturing more than 3,000 inhabitants to sell them off to Sevillian slavers. The sultan, Abu Yusuf Yaqub ibn Abd al-Haqq, took back the city after a fortnight’s siege, and soon started to build a fortress and city walls for civil defense.
This stronghold was called Borj Adoumoue (Borj ad Dumû), meaning “Bastion of Tears,” after the dreadful events that took place on the site. It was entrusted to marabout Sidi ben Achir, one of the major Islamic saints of Salé, whose mausoleum is located right in front of it. In 1785, the Alaouite sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah re-equipped the fortress with a prison and bronze cannons, which are still there in their rusty, dilapidated state, silently watching the waves below.
Know Before You Go
The site is about a half-hour’s walk from the Salé Ville station. The fortress is also known as Bastion des Larmes, Borj Sidi Benacher, and the Old Sqala (Skalla La-kdima).