Chellah, or Chella, (شالة) is a necropolis and complex of ancient and medieval ruins that lie on the outskirts of Rabat, Morocco’s Ville Nouvelle, or modern section. This site is the most ancient human settlement on the mouth of the Bou Regreg River.
The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, who founded several colonies in Morocco, probably inhabited the banks of the Bou Regreg. Chellah contains the ruins of a Roman town known as Sala Colonia and referred to as Sala by Ptolemy. Extant are ruined Roman architectural elements including a Decumanus Maximus, as well as those of a forum and a triumphal arch.
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 several 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 of the structures in Chellah were damaged by an 18th century earthquake. The site has been converted to a garden and tourist venue.