Rabat is the capital of Morocco, and lies along the Atlantic coast. It doesn’t often come up on most peoples’ Moroccan itinerary, and after visiting we can see why. Compared to other cities, Rabat is hardly memorable. However, we visited as part of our guided tour and did see some things of interest.
One of the notable things in Rabat, is the position of the large graveyard overlooking the beach. Whereas in most places beachfront property is at a premium, in Rabat the dead have the best views. In warm weather, you’ll even notice many beachgoers walking between the graves to reach the ocean below, in a strange juxtaposition between life and death.
1. See the Hassan Tower and Mohamed V Mausoleum
A sombre experience, but interesting nonetheless. The Hassan Tower is all that remains of an ambitious twelfth century ruler’s quest to build the largest mosque in the world. He passed away before work was completed and the tower and some columns are all that remain. A stark reminder of the passage of time and how our aspirations, no matter how lofty, may not outlive us after all.
Nearby is the Mausoleum of the first post-independence king and two of his sons, constantly under the watch of royal guards. Built in the 1950s in the style of the Alouite Dynasty, its exterior is extremely simple compared to the intricate designs adorning the interior. Visitors can enter the mausoleum and view the elaborate tombs from a balcony.
2. The Medina and Kasbahs
Technically two separate features, they are nevertheless connected which makes it easy to combine a visit. It is both smaller and quieter than medinas in other cities, giving you more opportunities to talk to locals, as there are fewer tourists around as well. The Kasbah of the Udayas is a little city within a city, with all the buildings flanking its narrow alleyways painted in blue and white, reminiscent of Santorini. Colourful flowers provide pops of colour and you’ll notice tons of ‘Hands of Fatima’ amulets adorning the doors, placed there to ward off evil. The Kasbah Mosque is only open to muslims, and is also worth a peek.
3. The Royal Palace
Known locally as the Dar Al-Makhzen, the primary home of the Moroccan royal family lies here in Rabat. Officially called the El Mechouar Essaid Palace, translated to the venue of happiness palace, which is a rather optimistic name. We were only able to see the exterior, and take some photos as our guide gave us some information about the palace. We’ve heard that it’s quite difficult to get in for a visit, and if you aren’t going inside there really isn’t much to see.