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Tourist Attractions in Rabat, Morocco


Rabat, the capital of the kingdom, is located on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on the left bank of the Bou Regreg Estuary.
A city of trees and flowers, Rabat combines peace, beauty and Serenity, and is steeped in history. The origins of the city date back to the seventh century. A Mauritanian trading post was once built to the south-east of the present city in the Chellah area. The river port, later colonized first by the Carthaginians and then by the Romans, was a bridgehead for the Roman occupation.
Converted to Islam in the tenth century, a military garrison was established here and a ribat (fort) was built, this being the origin of the name of the city. Sultan Abdelmoumen transformed what was not much more than a Casbah and built a mosque and a palace here too.
Yacoub El Mansour promoted the development of Rabat, which was to become a luxurious capital and also the place for rallying the troops before the conquest of Spain.
After the victory of El Mansour's army over the Castillians in 1195 the fortress took the glorious name of Ribat El Fath ever, with the death of the Sultan the fall of the Almohades led to led to the decline of Rabat.
By the sixteenth century only the Casbah was still inhabited. A decree by Phillip II (1609), who expelled the Moors from his kingdom, obliged thousands of Andalucians to go to Morocco. They then built a new city to the south of the Casbah, enclosing it within the "Undulations' Wall", which still surrounds the medina today.
Rabat is now the capital of Morocco. It is the residence of the King and the seat of government and embassies. Hassan II Avenue follows the Undulations' Wall, built in the seventeenth century, and separating the modern city from the medina.
Souika Street is the main artery in the medina. The many foundouks (traditional cafes) and shops always give this axis a very lively atmosphere. The babuche and Moroccans leather ware sellers occupy "Sebbat Souk" (the footwear market), which is easily distinguished by the mat roofing.
Going along Consules Street, where foreign diplomats lived until 1912, you will find curiosities, souvenirs and traditional Moroccan items: worked copper, worked leather, silk embroidery, Sale mats and the famous Rabat carpets.
The Royal Palace, construction of which began in 1864, is surrounded by a wall cut by three gates. Inside the various buildings open into the space known as the Mechouar, which holds the Ahl-Fas mosque where the King leads prayers on Fridays.
Bab Rouah, or "Gate of the Winds", is the name of one of the five gates in the Almohade wall. It has now been converted into an exhibition center.
Chellah was known as a necropolis until 1931, when excavations uncovered some Roman ruins.
A magnificent garden leads to a terrace affording an unparalleled view both of the Roman ruins and of the minaret of the Merinide Mosque, decorated with polychrome glazed earthenware tiles. Hassan Tower is the last vestige of the mosque, construction of which had been undertaken by Yacoub El Mansour in 1196. The minaret is 44 meters high. On the other side of the tower is the mausoleum where King Mohamed V lies. It is in this very place where the late Mohamed V, returning from exile, gathered thousands of Moroccans to thank God for giving independence to his country.
Construction of the Oudayas Casbah dates back to the eleventh century. A ribat, a real fortress, was built here to protect the Oudayas, and it affords a fine view over Sale and the ocean.
The interior of the Casbah is well worth a visit. The Costume Museum tells the history of Morocco through the dress and traditional jewelry of the various regions of the kingdom. In the Museum of Moroccan Arts, housed between the walls of the former residence of Moulay Ismail, the custodians have tried to reconstruct all the accessories which make up the decoration of a typical Moroccan house.
After this visit you may like to stop on a cafe esplanades in the Casbah and linger over a refreshing peppermint tea.
Golf fans will certainly visit Dar Es Salam golf course, surely one of the most beautiful in the world. In the very place where the most prestigious champions compete, you yourself will have the opportunity to experience the joy and pleasure of a round of golf.
Against an enchanting background, the Royal Clube Equestre riding school boasts the very finest thoroughbred horses. All you have to do is decide to take advantage of this chance and take off at a gallop, with no speed limits under the age old trees of the forest of Dar Es Salam.
The yacht club, meanwhile, has excellent facilities for water skiing. Finally, lovers of wind surfing and those who prefer to go off on a picnic can peacefully share the waters and shores of the Atlantic and the Bou Regreg dam.
Sale, twin city of Rabat, spreads out on the opposite bank of the Bou Regreg river. Founded in the tenth century, the Merinides provided it with a wall and various buildings, between which there is a monumental gate, Bab Mrisa, and a medersa with an imposing portico and enchanting patio. The medersa houses the great mosque, and affords a superb panoramic view over the whole Sale and the flanks of Rabat.
If Rabat is the city of gardens, Sale is the city of sanctuaries. The most venerable is the one dedicated to the patron saint of the city: Sidi Abdellah Ben Hassoun. It is also the most picturesque with its curious dome and exterior polychrome gallery.
The most moving, however, is that of Sidi Ben Achir, immaculately white under the deep blue sky and against the acquire background of the wall, from which old bronze cannon still point at the sea.
During the Mouloud, the anniversary of the birth of the prophet Mohamed, important festivals take place in Sale, particularly the festival of the candles, when there is a great procession of boatmen and carriers of delightfully decorated multicolored candles. The many artisans of Sale are well known for their skills in keeping up traditions in the most varied areas: pottery, maraca leather ware, ironware, carpet weaving, embroidery, drapery and rush matting.
To the north-east of Rabat Mamora forest represents 50% of the cork trees in Morocco: 134,000 cork trees! Exploitation of cork and eucalyptus does not detract from the pleasure you will get from strolling through this forest, where the trees are delightfully set out and where the tranquility is all-pervading.
Temara, 13 kilometers from Rabat, is the favorite weekend and holiday beach for the inhabitants of the capital. This is where they come to enjoy the quality and is where they come to enjoy the quality and mild climate. The beach is attractive because of its natural bathing pool, and the city is equipped with important leisure facilities.
After visiting such a welcoming city you will not hesitate to make a detour and stop at the Temara Zoological Gardens, where the most varied and rare species of mammals are kept.
The inhabitants of the capital, who appreciate excellent fresh fish, travel the kilometers which separate Rabat and Mehdia to purchase freshly caught fish which holds pride of place at their tables. Mehdia also boasts a beach several kilometers long.