Safi or for locals also known as Asfi, is a beautiful city on the Moroccan Atlantic coast. Located near Essaouira, Safi remains a bit in the shade for tourists, although it is a historic city with a great cultural heritage. Safi was the principal fishing port and, with the industry of canning and exporting sardines, guaranteed employment to many local inhabitants. From the port of Safi is exported phosphate, one of the main Moroccan riches, from all over the territory.
Among the main goods exported from the large port of Asfi, there are also precious fabrics and, especially, beautiful ceramics. The story of Safi, Kingdom of Morocco. Safi, one of the oldest Moroccan cities, appears to have been founded by the Carthaginian Annone. It was occupied by the Portuguese in 1488 and liberated by the Saadi dynasty in 1541. Safi remained one of the most important ports in the Kingdom until the creation of Essaouira in the second half of the seventeenth century.
What to visit in Safi
A quiet walk will take you to the beautiful and charming medina of Safi, which is full of historic buildings of Portuguese architecture and colourful stalls. In the vicinity of the Medina, there is the “hill of potters,” an area where the soil is rich in exceptional clay, with which skilled local artisans have been producing terra cotta objects since 1875.At the bottom of the hill, there is a long tunnel with many small shops.
This area houses over 500 potters and artisan assistants spread across forty laboratories outfitted with 50 traditional ovens and 28 gas ovens.A tour to discover this enchanting place, will allow everyone, tourists and visitors, to know the different stages of the realisation of objects and ceramics.The largest Tajine in the world is located in Safi, or Asfi, Morocco, and was made by the best potters in the city. It has been inscribed in the Guinness Book of Records since 1999 for its exceptional size. It has a diameter of 6 metres and a height of 4.5 metres.
The Ancient Cathedral of Safi
The Ancient Cathedral of Safi was built in 1520 at the request of Archbishop D. Joo Subtil by master builder Joao Luis. The only masterpiece of Manueline architecture outside Portugal. In 1541 it was destroyed, but the cloak remained that, even today, you can admire its beauty.
Since 1990, the Museum of Ceramics has been housed in the fortress “The Kechla or Dar El Sultan,” which was built by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century and is located 500 metres from the sea.
The large museum houses the most beautiful collections of ancient and contemporary ceramics, with an area dedicated to the exhibition of various handicrafts. From the fantastic crenellated towers of the ancient palace, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean and Safi.
Ksar El Bahr, Castle by the Sea
Ksar El Bahr, “Ksar” means castle and the word “Bahr” means sea, is the symbol of Safi, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
The “Castle on the Sea” covers an area of 2,300 square metres and is built on the Jorf Amouni, which is higher up the cliff than the rest of it. Huge masonry building with very low foundations, anchored in the “dune sandstone”. The imposing fort has three towers, the largest of which is rectangular. It was originally chosen as the residence of the commander of the Portuguese legion at Safi in the 16th century.
The structure is surrounded by strong stone walls and contains inside cells, a large courtyard, a casemate, and a ramp.
Ksar El Bahr has giant gates with a large inner courtyard with impressive stone ramparts. It also contains positions for guns and brass cannons prepared in the past to defend the city of Safi from attacks by armies and pirates.
The high towers attest to the advancement of Portuguese architecture at the time. The project of Ksar El Bahr was designed by a Portuguese architect, Diogo de Boitaca, famous for his works for the royal family. Archaeological research conducted in 1963 established the “Architecture of Manuel” style associated with King Manuel.
Lalla Fatna, the beautiful beach of Safi
After admiring Safi’s architectural and craft beauties, suggested having lunch at Lalla Fatna. Among the cleanest and most famous beaches in Morocco, with high waves, Lalla Fatma is very famous for surfing and water sports enthusiasts.
A quiet place to enjoy the warm sun with family or friends and where you can wait for the sunset and the views of the ocean.
To summarise, the city of Safi is not overly exploited as a tourist destination, which makes it appear authentic and natural to visitors.