Rabat Travel Guide
Introduction to Rabat
While Rabat is the capital of Morocco, it doesn’t attract the same amount of attention from visitors compared to other centres. When you are up against the likes of Marrakesh, Casablanca, Agadir, Fez, and others, its not easy to rise above the noise.
This isn’t to say that this city is boring – nothing could be further from the truth. With a mausoleum dedicated to royalty, ancient ruins dating back to the times of the Phoenicians, modern art museums and more, there is plenty to see and do on a visit to Rabat.
Cultural attractions in Rabat
Begin your time in Rabat by paying your respects to some of the most revered leaders in Morocco’s past at the Mausoleum of Mohammad V. Within, the bodies of King Mohammed V and his sons King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah lie within beautifully crafted marble tombs.
The building as much of an attraction as the royalty that lies within, as its arches, pillars, roof, and doors are exquisitely crafted in the architectural style that was favoured during the Alaouite dynasty. As with any mausoleum, come dressed as you would for a friend’s wake or funeral – wear proper shirts, pants, and dresses/blouses that show no skin.
Gaze upon the remains of an ancient city and the monuments of a present day necropolis at Chellah. Founded by the Phoenicians and occupied subsequently by the Carthaginians, the Romans, and the Berbers, it was found abandoned by the Arabs in the 7th century.
It was re-purposed as a necropolis by the Almohads in the 12th century, and today, the area serves as a tourist attraction within the city of Rabat. Here, you’ll find ancient Roman walls, funerary monuments, and the remains of eroded and earthquake-shattered buildings.
Next, continue onward to the Kasbah of the Udayas. City fortifications that were built in the 12th century by the Almohad dynasty to guard the capital against pirates and the Crusaders, they boast impressive ramparts, gate houses, and towers, all of which made it possible for this centre to thrive and grow over the centuries.
Within its walls, the older parts of Rabat exist much like they did in previous generations. You’ll spend hours wandering its narrow pathways, many of which are painted in vibrant colours – don’t forget your camera at the hotel!
Other attractions in Rabat
Ever express fear at aiming to do something ambitious? Hassan Tower will inspire you to give your dreams a chance. Originally intended to be a mosque with the world’s highest minaret, the development failed with the death of Sultan Yacub al-Mansour, as priorities changed upon the crowning of his successor.
While the incomplete mosque might be viewed as an abject failure in the eyes of some, it has garnered UNESCO World Heritage status, as it bore unique architectural elements when it was built in the late 12th century.
It may not have become the world’s largest mosque as Sultan Yacub had intended, but it still commands attention from visitors and locals today.
Next, spend some time discovering the secrets that can be found within the Medina of Rabat. Unlike the hectic medina of Marrakesh, the one in Rabat has a more laid back atmosphere to it, making it a better choice for those that don’t like being hounded by touts.
When you aren’t touring its market stalls looking for the perfect souvenir, there are plenty of cafes where you can while the day away with a cup of tea, making it the perfect place to watch the world go by.
The Andalusian Gardens are another excellent choice for those looking to recharge their batteries during their Moroccan travels.
Built by the French in the 19th century, they cover five acres and are filled with countless species of lush flora, quaint fountains, as well as a cafe known for its refreshing pots of mint tea. You might even find a feline friend during your time here, as they are frequent visitors to this garden.