History and museums
Chellah or Sala Colonia (Berber: Calla or Sla; Arabic: شالة), is a medieval fortified necropolis located south of Rabat, Morocco.
Chellah existed since pre-Christian times and houses complex of ancient Roman Mauretania Tingitana and medieval ruins. First spot of Salé, this latter was completed towards the north of the river. It is the most ancient human settlement on the mouth of the Bou Regreg River.
Chellah was abandoned during the Almohad-era, then rebuilt by the Marinids.
The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, who founded several colonies in Morocco, probably inhabited the banks of the Bou Regreg. Actual Chellah is the site of the ruins of the Roman town known as Sala Colonia, referred to as Sala by Ptolemy. Excavations show an important port city with ruined Roman architectural elements including a decumanus maximus or principal Roman way, a forum and a triumphal arch. Chellah was a center of Christianity since the second century.
One of the two main Roman roads in Morocco reached the Atlantic through Iulia Constantia Zilil (Asilah), Lixus (Larache) and Chellah. Another may have been built toward south, from Chellah to modern Casablanca, then called Anfa. The Romans had two main naval ouposts on the Atlantic: Sala near modern Rabat and Lixus.
Sala remained linked to the Roman Empire even in the fourth century after the withdrawal of Roman legions to the area of Roman Tingis and Septem in northern Mauretania Tingitana: A Roman military unit remained there until the end of the fifth century. Some objects, including elements of Visigothic and Byzantine belt even attest to the persistence of commercial or political contacts between Sala and Roman Europe until the Byzantine presence in berber north Africa during the seventh century.
The site was abandoned in 1154 AD in favour of nearby Salé. The Almohad dynasty used the ghost town as a necropolis. In the mid-14th century, a Merinid sultan, Abu l-Hasan, built monuments and the main gate, dated to 1339. These later Merinid additions included a mosque, a zawiya, and royal tombs, including that of Abu l-Hasan.
Many structures in Chellah/Sala Colonia were damaged by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. The site has been converted to a garden and tourist venue. Actually it is included in the metropolitan area of Rabat.
Since 2005, the ruins of Chella host an international "Festival of Jazz" each year, called Jazz au Chellah.
The site was granted World Heritage Status in 2012.