Well, as I am interested in both old and some modern architecture, I always put attention to some pretty and/or unique architectural details. Sale is a great place to do it in peace and quiet.
Look for example at this Arabic inscription put on a wall of the Grand Mosque minaret. Large part of the world including Europe and America use Latin (Roman), not Arabic, letters. At least the whole world uses Arabic numbers, so I could easily understand the date, I thought: 1256, hmm... over 700 years ago? No, the date 1256 is from the Hegire which means 1256 + 622 = 1878 AD. Confusing? More pictures of architectural details of both medersa, city gates and the Grand Mosque I put in my travelogues.
There is a Muslim cemetery for both Rabat and Sale in northern and northwestern part of Sale. It was the first Muslim cemetery I ever visited. The graves of human body size are similar in shape and each contain quite long writings in Arabic language. I found a bit strange location of the cemetery: first inside (mostly) city walls, second just by the Atlantic coast. Hmm... there are graves instead of a beach or villas of Rabat's rich and famous...
On the cemetery, close to the ocean, I've found the first white koubba in Morocco. It's a local chapel or a small mausoleum (a grave) built to pay tribute either famous locals or saints. I was too lazy to get closer in hot sun but later on, I've found many beautiful koubbas in the South of Morocco.
There is a white courtyard of the Grand Mosque which I entered passing through the open entrance gate from main street (Rue de la Grand Mosque). There are 1-story arcades around with closed decorative doors and first of all there is large square basis of the mosque minaret in the middle of the square.
I couldn't find the entrance to the Grand Mosque at first. It's hidden among white houses of the medina. And first of all, I, being a non-muslim, was not allowed to enter the Grand Mosque built by Almohad dynasty which started to rule over Rabat and Sale in 12th century.
So, I could only see:
- a courtyard of the mosque with a typical, square minaret in the center. The minaret was my best orientation point when I got lost among little streets of the medina;
- decorative portal - entrance to the mosque;
- beautiful wall fountain by the entrance.
There is a beautiful wall fountain located just by the entrance to the Grand Mosque. It's roofed by typically dark green (reserved for royality now) tiles. The fountain was used by muslims to wash hands, face and feet before entering the mosque in the past. Now, it's a pretty decorative detail.
Medersa is an old coranic school, a kind (the only) of university in muslim countries in the past. The medersa of Sale was the first I visited in Morocco. It was founded in 1333 (by Abou l'Hassan from Merinide dynasty) and does not operate now. The local guard and guide wanted a small fee (1$ or less per 2) for entrance which I paid at once. When I took a first picture he ordered me to pay... a few times more for taking pictures. I started to bargain and finally I decided not to take pictures, silly me with my low budget and loong trip ahead that time.
I saw typical for old coranic school: square internal courtyard surrounded by columns and arcades on the ground floor, walls decorated with Arabic ornaments along the bottom and topped with frescoes in cedar wood. In Sale, add the terrace on the flat roof with a view over Sale, Rabat and the Atlantic Ocean. Later on I visited a few, more famous medersas in Morocco, and I have to admit that this one in Sale is under-rated.
I saw only three or four of over ten city gates of Sale. The most impressive and the largest is called Bab Bou Haja ("Bab" means a gate in Arabic). The gate has well preserved Arabic ornamental elements on both sides.
It is the main entrance to the city and the best starting point for a walk around Sale. There is a square called Bab Khebaz opposite to the gate where there is a convenient parking lot for each visitor.
Sale welcomed me with huge and long city walls, built by Merinides dynasty ruling over Rabat and Sale in 13th century. The walls survived and they surround the whole medina which is quite unique nowadays. They are very well maintained, better than in its neighbour - Rabat. I wanted to walk on the walls but... it's impossible.
I paid attention to square defensive towers and to irregular and quite large, brick-shape stones used to build the wall hidden behind added later, and partly destroyed by time, flat clay covering of bright orange colour.
Vilarmar, for "Village des Arts Marocains" (Moroccan articraft Village) is a kind of “must see” in Rabat though it is in Salé ! Confusing, isn’t it ? As I said, Salé is the twin town of Rabat and Vilarmar, which is outside Salé is actually on the outskirts of Rabat. It is not more than half a dozen kilometers and easily reached by taxi by those that have no car.
It is a must see as, even if you do not plan to buy anything, you will see on display and will be able to look at every Moroccan craft, without being worried. If you want to buy some souvenirs, you will have a wide choice. More under my “shopping” title.