Rabat

 

Rabat was flooded around 1150 by the Almohads, Rabat has always attracted diverse peoples, and this since antiquity. Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans succeeded one another. The city experienced its heyday in the 12th century, when its Kasbah (fortress) was used as a strategic center in the war against the Spanish. At that time, Sultan Yacoub el Mansour made Rabat his capital and undertook the construction of the Hassan tower. The 13th century heralded the decline of Rabat, when the Almoravid dynasty named Fez as the capital of its empire. In the 17th century, Muslims driven out of Andalusia during the “Reconquista” revived the city through trade and crafts. This start did not last. Indeed, Rabat was only a small town of 25,000 inhabitants in 1912 when Lyautey made it the political and administrative capital of the French protectorate. Currently, Rabat is the administrative capital of Morocco, it is the symbol of a modern state. The miles of the amber-colored enclosure surround a city where European modernism and Muslim traditions blend harmoniously. Rabat is a city rich in monuments and museums, but its cultural influence has nothing to do with major tourist attractions like Fez or Marrakech or even Meknes. Recall that the city developed primarily in the 20th century under the leadership of the French protectorate. Indeed, the beauty of the city lies more in its calm and its intelligent development than in its cultural richness. Built on the edge of the estuary of the BouRegreg river. Unlike other imperial cities in the interior of the country, Rabat is a calm and airy city. It is true that while Rabat remains the administrative and commercial capital of Morocco, it has never been its economic capital. Symbolized by the famous Hassan Tower, the cultural heritage of Rabat is interesting and includes beautiful monuments and museums of great quality. Rabat was able to grow and develop in measure and serenity. Far from the capitals of the Third World, the city preferred order and cleanliness to hasty construction. Soft and harmonious, known for the purity of its air, the “Washington” of the Maghreb is also a studious city. “The city of knowledge” has many faculties, colleges and research institutes. It attracts thousands of students from Morocco and abroad.

The medina Founded in the 17th century, it is the work of Andalusian refugees driven out of Spain by King Philip III. It was erected south of the Bouregreg River and is protected by multiple enclosures, making it one of the best protected medinas in Morocco. In addition to the many traditional souks, one can visit at leisure many places steeped in history such as the Oudayas Kasbah, built by the Almoravids, the old Jewish quarter of Mellah, the Makki mosque and the Almohad walls. None of the places that make up the medina of Rabat have undergone any changes since their creation.

The necropolis of Chellah is located 2 km south-east of the city center, shelters many Arab-Islamic monuments as well as Roman remains. As soon as you pass the beautiful access door, you discover an ancient site overgrown with lush vegetation. A mysterious and impressive place, the necropolis has long served as a cemetery for Moroccan rulers. The site does not shine for the quality of its ruins but rather for the splendid view it offers over the BouRegreg river. Berbers, Romans and Mérinides successively settled on the site, but for several centuries the site has belonged to storks and other animals. Inside the site, there are a few tombs and a stone basin in which fish and sacred turtles roam. Further on, a minaret has partially preserved its polychrome decoration. It is now inhabited by storks. Ideal for walks, the site is considered by some to be the most romantic place in the country.

The archaeological museum has existed since the 1930s. It houses a large collection of objects discovered while excavating the archaeological sites of Morocco, in particular the sites of Volubilis and Banassa. The purpose of the museum is to trace the history of the country from prehistoric times. There are many useful or decorative objects such as tools, mosaics, pottery, statuettes… The collection of bronze statues is remarkable. We find the famous Dog of Volubilis discovered in 1916. The highlight of the show is provided by the Ephèbe crowned with ivy discovered in a house in Volubilis. The museum also follows an educational goal by illustrating the daily life of Moroccans at different times.

The Mohammed V Mausoleum Designed by the Vietnamese architect Vo Toan, the Mohammed V mausoleum is a true showcase of Moroccan know-how. Its construction was completed in 1971 after 10 years of work involving 400 of the best craftsmen in the country. Inside, the central tomb is that of Mohammed V and the tomb on the left is that of Hassan II. Built in white Italian marble, the mausoleum has a pyramidal roof covered with green tiles. The royal Pakistani white onyx sarcophagus rests under a dome made of leaf-gilded mahogany and Lebanese cedar. In this place, the ancestral techniques of Moroccan craftsmen blend beautifully with noble materials from around the world. Finally, the mausoleum rises on the huge esplanade where the famous Hassan Tower stands.

Hassan Tower Built in the 12th century on the initiative of Sultan Yacoub El Mansour, who wanted to build the largest mosque in the world, the Hassan Tower will never have the glorious destiny he wanted. Indeed, the works were abandoned after his death in 1199. In addition, it was damaged during the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 which destroyed the colonnades. Nevertheless, the Hassan Tower remains one of the emblems of the city of Rabat, but also a precious vestige of traditional Moroccan art with, among other things, its sculptures that adorn each of its facades.

The Kasbah des Oudayas impressive fortress dating from the 12th century which includes Andalusian-style gardens, a superb museum of Moroccan arts and small white and blue houses. The place is truly magical! A small gem, This fortress, dominates the mouth of the BouRegreg river, separating Rabat and Salé. The alleys all descend to the tops of the cliffs that dominate the estuary where you can peacefully contemplate the immense medina of Salé. The Kasbah des Oudayas not only shines through its architecture and its cultural weight. Indeed, it is a real place to live. The inhabitants of Rabat like to walk there, chat, play cards or better, scrutinize the newly arrived visitors. Note that cultural events are numerous in the Kasbah.