Discover The Legend of the Two Shores

The shores and valley of the Bouregreg river are the cradle that nurtured the cities of Salé andRabat, twins and competitors throughout the ages.

The river is as much a source of fear as hope, a path of conquest for invaders and a channel to sea trade.

Fortifications and bastions protected the growing cities from potential invasion. The river is the border between the pious “Old Salé” and the amoral “New Salé”, once a pirate’s den and known asRabat today.

Up until not so long ago, though not as warlike, the cities were still at odds. However, history has rewritten the roles and Rabat has now left the shadow of its rival. Elected capital of the kingdom, dynamic and elegant, it towers over Salé, the Belle of the North Shore. A legend was born between the two banks.

Today, the opposing hillsides have reconciled and the legend has regained force. No longer famous for empire-building sultans or intrepid pirates, but for restoration and development projects that aim to preserve and perpetuate a remarkable common history.

Historical Legacies




Cities of religious, commercial and maritime conquests.

Of the fortified Ribat, built between 1150 and 1199 by the Almohades on the south side of the Bouregreg, not much is left of the base camp that was used to conquer four centuries earlier.

Neglected by the Merinides and made obsolete by the Catholic repossession of , the Ribat seemed doomed. But early in the 17th century it became infamous, even spreading fear throughout the sailors of ’s Louis XIV. The destinies of the Two Shores are brought together by an unusual pact, with a state of piracy as the bond.

Here starts the forced exodus of the Spanish “Moriscos” (descendants of Moslems and ancestors of the actual inhabitants of Rabat), following a decree by King Philippe III in 1609, causing the massive arrival from of those they called the “Andalous”. 

Attracted by the economic reputation of Salé, these brash immigrants settled in the long abandoned Almohad Kasbah (today the Oudayas). The newcomers, both wealthy and brazen, soon armed ships and organized pirate activities called « sea shopping ».

The corsairs were not only motivated by gain, but also by revenge for all the humiliations the Spanish had inflicted on them. The piracy continued for 200 years, to such a point that the buccaneers of Salé decided to create their own republic.

This “Republic of the Two Shores”, proclaimed in 1627, lasted only a few short tumultuous years, as tension built up between the two cities.

With dubious success, the piracy continued until the turn of the 19th century. Most of the vessels, over-laden with goods returning from the Indies, Europe or the New World, were assaulted by the cunning corsairs. The pirates operated in the Straights of Gibraltar and even in the high seas, reaching the British shores and the far coasts of Newfoundland. They pillaged and stole, enslaving all the crews. French ships were favorite targets of the “Salétins” pirates. In times of cease-fire, the ransomed prisoners were sold back and saved from a life of slavery. The King of France directly snubbed the Buccaneers by sending priests to negotiate and pay for the return of the sailors held in Salé. The name « Ribat » disappears, it is now called « New Salé ».

During the 17th century, internal rivalries and the development of diplomacy finally put an end to the pirate activities. The buccaneers tried to restore piracy in 1827 but were seriously chastised: Austrian war ships destroyed the ports of Salé and Lahrache, further north. The days of “sea shopping” are over. 

When the Oudayas tribe settled in the deserted Kasbah in 1833, it had been abandoned for years. But the fighting between the Two Shores left its scars. A local saying at the time was: “Should the river turn to milk and the sand to sultanas, never shall a Salétin be the friend of a R’bati”. Water under the bridge since then, turning proverb into fable, as the two people live in perfect harmony today.

Ludaïas Tribe Originally from the Sahara desert, this nomadic tribe was recruited by the Sultan Moulay Ismaïl in 1677 to form his army, based in Fès and in Meknès.







The Oudaïas Tribe

Originally from the Sahara desert, this tribe was recruited by Moulay Ismaïl in 1677 to form his army. The Sultan then stations the troops in Fez and Meknes.

In the 1830s, their lack of discipline is such that they are mostly known for pillaging. Their chief is arrested by the Sultan Moulay Abderrahman and the Oudayas tribe is thrown out of the army.

As they revolt and menace to overtake Fez, the Sultan spreads the tribe out over the kingdom. Part of the nomad soldiers settle in the almost abandoned Kasbah in Rabat, between 1833 and 1844.

First urban center in Rabat, the Oudaïas Kasbah extends over 4 hectares.