Safi, the City of Amazing Pottery

Safi, whose name comes from the Amazigh language and means ‘mouth of the river’ (estuary), is both traditional and modern. Its economy is based on numerous fish-processing factories and ceramics shops.

Safi History

Safi began as a Canaanite settlement established by the Carthaginians, who named it by this name. After them came the Romans, the Goths, and then the Arab Muslims. It became a ribat in the fifth century of immigration. In the early tenth century AH (the sixteenth century AD), the city was forced to pay a royalty to King Manuel I of Portugal (1469-1521 AD). The Portuguese seized it in 913 AH / 1508 AD after a three-year siege and colonized it for about a quarter of a century. The presidency belonged to a leader from its inhabitants who bore the title of Sheikh or Leader, who ruled it in the name of the King of Portugal. The Portuguese left it permanently in the year 933 AH / 1526 AD under the pressure of the resistance. Still, it remained in ruins for twelve years until it was rebuilt by Sheikh Muhammad Al-Saadi. Safi reached its height of prosperity in the eleventh and twelfth centuries AH (16th and 17th AD) under the Saadian sultans who made Safi the main port of their metropolis, Marrakesh.

In the time of the Alawite sultans, Safi gradually began to lose its importance after they moved their capital to Rabat in the north. Salé became their most important port on the sea. The population of Safi increased from about 16,000 in 1976 to about 376,038 in 1996. The fishing profession is active in its waters, considered one of the world’s most important ports for catching and packing sardines and a port for exporting foodstuffs. It is linked by a railway to the nearby port of Youssoufia, which is intended to export phosphate ores. It is a center for chemical industries (phosphate fertilizers) and foodstuffs. It is also famous for pottery. The buildings of Safi extend along the coast and over the slopes of the hills overlooking it. They are a mixture of medieval and modern architecture, and there are many schools and mosques. -1628 AD) and a school from Moulay Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Alawi (1757-1790 AD).

Many historical exploits

Excavations were discovered in Jebel Ighoud, east of the city, in 1962, consisting of human and animal bone remains. Various tools indicate that people lived in Safi fifty thousand years ago. Historians say that the roots of the city are deep in history.

Its ancient history, deeply rooted in civilizations, enabled it to have many monuments that remain steadfast to this day, including the “Palace of the Sea,” one of the most important historical monuments in the city of Safi, located along Independence Square. This Portuguese landmark was built in the 15th century AD to form A small Portuguese fortress, then the governor’s seat; completely renovated in 1963, it has a large monumental gate opening onto a parade ground containing ten ancient bronze cannons aimed at the ocean.

Sea House

The Portuguese cathedral is also part of the city’s ruins. It was built by the order of the Portuguese King Emmanuel I in 1519 as a gift for his wife, Queen Saint Catherine. It was built by Joao Louis and is still witness to a historical era in which the Portuguese imposed their authority on some ports in North Africa.

Dar Al-Sultan, which was turned into a museum of ceramics

The city contains the “Dar al-Sultan,” a castle that dates back to the Almohad period (the twelfth to the thirteenth century AD). It protected the city because it overlooks the sea palace and the Atlantic Ocean. The castle became a tourist residence for Alawite kings and princes who built a house called “Bahia,” hence the name Dar Al-Sultan. In 1990 the court was turned into a national museum of ceramics.

Fish City

In addition to its historical monuments, the Moroccan city of “Safi” was known for fishing, so some called it “the city of fish.” Its inhabitants.

On the coastal road linking the cities of Safi and Essaouira, there are dozens of industrial units for canning fish in the city and exporting them to Europe, Asia and other Arab countries. The fish canning industry in the town dates back to the 1930s.

The sector witnessed a remarkable development at the hands of President Hajj Muhammad Abed after he introduced the latest technologies in his fishing. In particular, sardine fishing flourished, and the traditional fish-finishing sector expanded in 1990, putting an end to the use of antiquated and inefficient techniques.

Potter City

The city is also famous for pottery, until its mention was associated with the word of the town, as “Safi” is considered the home of this traditional industry that contributes to the development of various sectors, whether economic or social, thus becoming the most important conventional craft at the level of heritage, culture and tourism. The raw material for pottery consists of clay, water and some Chemical materials and wood that artisans masterfully synthesize and give them wonderful geometric shapes, which made Safi ceramics occupy a global position.

The ceramic industry is mainly concentrated in the Hadbat Al-Khazaf neighborhood, which is the oldest neighborhood in the city, in which more than 800 craftsmen work in 37 workshops equipped with 70 traditional kilns, and in the Al-Shu’bah neighborhood, which was established to embrace the growing number of ceramic artisans, as there are about 100 potters who practice their work in 74 workshops equipped with 130 traditional ovens.

Beaches and excursions around Safi

To appreciate all the beauty of the coast, first, take the coastal road towards Oualidia. For more tranquility, stop at Lalla Fatna beach, 15 km north of Safi: well sheltered from the wind by high cliffs; it is ideal for fishing and swimming. Then go to Cape Beddouzza: after enjoying the beach’s calm, you can walk to the Gorani cave to discover curious cave paintings… Finally, take the coastal road to the south to Souira Kedima beach, where beautiful hikes await you!


It is more convenient to get to Safi by bus or by car. It takes about 3h30 by road (255 km) from Casablanca. From El Jadida and Marrakech, the journey takes just 2 hours (155 km) and 1 hour from Oualida (65 km).

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