Sala Colonia

Sala Colonia is an ancient city situated on the outskirts of the city of Rabat, the present day capital of Morocco, where the remains of a Roman settlement were incorporated into a medieval necropolis called Chellah. Built on a trading post used by the Phoenicians, Sala sits on a hill above the fertile plain of the Bou Regreg river which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The site contains the ruins of an ancient port city referred to as Sala by the renowned Greek geographer Ptolemy. The first excavations undertaken on the site (1929-1930) unearthed the remains of several buildings from the time of Trajan (98-117 AD) including a forum, a monumental fountain, a capitol, a triumphal arch as well as the decumanus maximus (the main east-west-oriented street).

Coordinates: 34° 0′ 24″ N, 6° 49′ 13″ W

sala-colonia

Phoenicians traders were the first to settle on the northern Moroccan coast as early as the 8th century BC. They founded several colonies including the settlement they called Sala on the banks of the Bou Regreg river. Under Punic influence, Sala became a city-state with diverse commercial relations with the Iberian peninsula as well as the Mediterranean and issued its own currency. The Phoenicians were later followed by the Carthaginians from the 3rd century BC onwards. The Romans took control of the area in about 40 AD during the reign of Emperor Claudius and  Sala became part of the province of Mauretania Tingitana. It was the most southwestern outpost of the Roman Empire in Africa. The Romans brought Sala to the status of a significant port and thriving economic hub. The city witnessed an important urban development, as evidenced by the layout of the forum, the capitolium and the curia, the octagonal nymphaeum, the triumphal arch and the thermal baths. An inscription confirms the status of the city as a Roman municipium and it was enclosed by a wall in 144 AD.

In about 250 AD the Romans lost control of the site to native Berber tribesmen but Sala remained a trading center and was still linked to the Roman Empire. Archaeological objects of Visigothic and Byzantine origin found in the area attest to the continuing commercial relations between Sala and Roman Europe.

What remained of the ancient city was abandoned in 1154 in favour of nearby Salé. The site of Sala lay deserted until the 13th century when the Merinids built a holy necropolis (or chellah), a mosque and a minaret on top of the Roman site, enclosed by a wall which still marks its boundaries today. The site, as part of the metropolitan Rabat, was granted World Heritage Status in 2012. If you visit Chellah in winter or in spring, you will get additional wildlife as a large colony of storks inhabits the ruins.

PORTFOLIO

The foundations of the of the triumphal arch, it stood south of the capitol and faced the forum.
The foundations of the three-bay triumphal arch which stood south of the capitolium and faced the forum. It was build during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD).
The foundations of the triumphal arch.
The foundations of the triumphal arch.
The Capitol, the official temple of the Capitoline Triad: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, built on two terraces arranged on a rectangle 46 m long and 26 m wide.
The Capitolium, the official temple of the Capitoline Triad: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. It was built in opus africanum on two terraces.
The Capitol was subdivided into several spaces, including a peribole, a covered Corinthian portico, a paved courtyard of blue limestone, with an altar, three adjoining rooms preceded by a pronaos with a staircase and a room reserved for the treasury temple.
The Capitolium of Sala was paid for by Claudius Hosidius Severus, prefect of a Syrian cavalry squadron of Roman citizens. The main building phase of this complex is dated to between the end of the 1st century AD to the beginning of the 2nd century AD. It was probably inaugurated at the beginning of Hadrian’s reign in 120 AD.
The Capitolium was subdivided into several spaces, including a peribolos (a court enclosed by a wall), a covered Corinthian portico, a paved courtyard of blue limestone, an altar, three adjoining rooms preceded by a pronaos with a staircase and a room reserved for the treasury temple.
The Capitolium was subdivided into several spaces including a peribolos (a court enclosed by a wall), a covered Corinthian portico, a paved courtyard of blue limestone, an altar, three adjoining rooms preceded by a pronaos with a staircase and a room reserved for the treasury temple.
The vaults of nine shops looking out over the decumanus maximus.
The Capitoliun was supported by nine vaulted chambers (tabernae?) opening on the decumanus maximus.
The Decumanus Maximus, bordered on its eastern end by the Forum.
The decumanus maximus, bordered on its eastern end by the Forum.
View of the Forum with bases of honorary inscriptions dedicated to the emperors and the great magistrates of the city.
View of the Forum with bases of honorary inscriptions dedicated to the emperors and the great magistrates of the city.
The lower level of the forum with six shops serviced by a secondary road.
The lower level of the forum with six shops served by a secondary road.
Trapezoidal, it is covered with large blue limestone slabs kept up to 20.60 m of the podium. Built during the works carried out during the reign of the emperor Trajan, this public square was closed by two monumental gates, of which the powerful foundations still remain.
The forum was a trapezoidal structure paved with large blue limestone slabs. Built during the works carried out during the reign of Trajan, this public square was closed by two monumental gates which foundations still remain.
Pseudo-lotus capital outside the forum.
Pseudo-lotus capital outside the forum.
Roman mosaic in one of the workshops in the artisan quarter.
Roman mosaic in one of the workshops in the artisan quarter.
An apotropaic phallus as a symbol to avert the evil eye inside a workshop.
An apotropaic phallus as a symbol to avert the evil eye inside a workshop.
The ruins of the Curia Ulpia adjoining the basilica. The epithet Ulpia recalls the solicitude of Emperor Trajan, who undoubtedly granted financial aid to the local senate to erect the building.
The ruins of the Curia Ulpia adjoining the basilica. The epithet Ulpia recalls the solicitude of Emperor Trajan, who undoubtedly granted financial aid to the local senate to erect the building.

The public baths of Sala located at the intersection of the decumanus maximus and the cardo maximus.
The public baths of Sala located at the intersection of the decumanus maximus and the cardo maximus.
The octagonal Nymphaeum. It formed a water tower and was supplied by an aqueduct.
The octagonal Nymphaeum. It formed a water tower and was supplied by an aqueduct.

Roman ruins of Sala with 13th century minaret.
Roman ruins of Sala with 13th century minaret.
Storks nesting on the 13th century minaret.
Storks nesting on the 13th century minaret built of stone and zellige tilework.

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