Rabat is a beautiful and historically rich city. Located just by the Atlantic ocean with River Bou Regreg to its left, Rabat is a pleasantly calm and peaceful city. The city was made Morocco’s capital by Morocco’s French colonialists in 1912 and retained as capital after independence in 1956. Rabat is also the residence of the country’s royal family. So if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path destination, here are top 10 reasons to visit Rabat that is sure to make you want to return.
Unlike other fast-paced cities like Fes and Marrakech, Rabat is a great North Moroccan destination with a much calmer atmosphere. At almost every turn, you’re confronted with amazing historical artifacts, architecture and culture. This is indeed a place for the adventurous and open-minded. You’ll cherish every moment spent here.
The Hassan Tower is an amazing unfinished wonder of the ancient world. Imagine touching the same pillar that has been touched by people for over 800 or more years. Such is the priceless experience at the Hassan Tower, an uncompleted 45m tower which would have been the minaret for the grand vision of ruler Yacoub al-Mansoura’s mosque on that site.
If you’ve been to this impressive ancient site you’ll surely have a story to tell. The Chella is a fairly preserved walled fortress with archaeological remains from the Roman era through to the Almohad and Merinid dynasties. With an entry fee of 10dirhams, Chella is a fascinating place to enjoy a long walk in a lush garden laced with beautiful old ruins and storks at every turn. Thanks to the many information points (though in French and Arabic) you can surely do with or without a guide. You can come along with some food for the stray cats. They will like it.
Oudaias Kasbah is arguably the most intriguing destination in Rabat. Every moment spent in this Andalusian-styled neighbourhood is simply magical. Its 11th century fortress walls are awe-inspiring while the oldest mosque in Rabat, the Kasbah Mosque, lies within this beautiful destination.
Rabat is not only about history, architecture and religion. Just 13km from Rabat is the popular Temara beach, a popular holiday destination among Rabat locals and vacationers alike. Its natural bathing pools make it a delight for families with young children worried about the waves. You should check it out.
Rabat zoo is a nice place to visit with your family. The environment is spacious, pleasant and home to a fair variety of animals. Don’t miss the bird section which houses lots of colourful parrots, and you can even snap unforgettable pictures with the birds on your shoulder. Enjoy your walk to the surrounding Atlas Mountains, rain forest, savannah, humid zone and desert areas. There’s a large picnic area for fun seekers wishing to bring their own food.
Though small in size, Andalusia presents a tranquil scenery for those who just want to sit and take in the silence. So come with your loved ones and wander along the paths, through gates while enjoying the variety of trees and flowers as well as the birds. If you’re a cat lover, the garden brims with them. It’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Medina in Rabat parades a unique Andalusian architecture which dates back from the 17th century when Muslims from Spain’s Andalusia region arrived Rabat. Check out the Koubba Mosque on Rue Bou Kroun as well as the Merinid Fountain and Grand Mosque, both on Rue Souka. Lastly, try to visit the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) by the Medina’s southeast corner. It has a nice flea market that will catch your fancy.
Otherwise known as the New City, this is where you can find an abundance of French colonial architecture as well as the Archaeological and Postal Museums. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Ville Nouvelle as you stroll along. Check out the collection of Moroccan stamps, telephones and telegraph machines at the Postal Museum on Avenue Mohamed V. It’s a lovely experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
Mausoleum of Mohammad V
This imposing mausoleum is a tribute to the memory of the founding fathers of Morocco. Built by Hassan II for his father Mohammad V, the beautiful mausoleum now serves as a resting place for both father and son. Situated just a few feet from the Hassan Tower, the building has a really impressive architecture, well maintained and entry is free. There are three parts: the mausoleum, museum and mosque.
Rabat’s Royal Palace is one of the most picturesque buildings in the city. Popularly referred to as the Fes el-Bali complex, this is the official residence of the country’s royal family. Though not open to the public, tourists can take selfies and other nice photographs of the palace exterior from different angles.