Morocco Tour Guide: Safi

Morocco Tour Guide: Safi Last updated on Thursday 22nd April 2010

Population: 845,000 (est. greater city)

Safi lies on Morocco's central Atlantic coast and has been an important port since Roman times. Then it was known as Asfi, and its people were among the first Moroccans to embrace Islam. The Almohads surrounded the city with ramparts and made the city an intellectual and spiritual centre.

In 1508 the Portuguese occupied the city, built a citadel and renovated the kasbah area before withdrawing under the Saadian onslaught in 1541. Under the Saadians, Safi's trading was developed and the city's Jamaa Masjid, or Grand Mosque, was built.

Their Alawite successors restored the old city and opened Safi to foreign traders. Under French control, the port facilities were developed for the export of phosphates mined in Youssoufia.

After independence Safi's importance as a port city continued to grow. In 1964 the Moroccan government constructed new facilities for the processing of phosphate rock into fertilizer and expanded its export capacity. Fish canning is another major industry. Safi is also Morocco's most famous ceramic centre, featuring an ancient potter's quarter and artisans of international reputation.

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