Rabat (literally The Fortified Place) is the capital city of Morocco. The city is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bouregreg. Modern and even reserved by Moroccan standards, the city has many fascinating historic sites, including the picturesque Kasbah of the Oudayas, built in the mid-12th century and Chellah of Marinids dynasty. The unique Hassan Tower, begun at the end of the 12th century, was meant to have the world's largest mosque, but was never completed. Just opposite the tower lies the 20th-century Mausoleum of Mohammed V, another of the city's main attractions.
Kasbah of Oudayas
The Oudayas Kasbah or The medina is built in the 12th century by the Almohads, it was originally called Mehdiya. When the Moriscos (the Andalusian muslims) were driven from Spain, they landed there at the beginning of the 17th century. The monument took the name of Kasbah Andalusia and even became an autonomous Republic of privateers from 1621 to 1647. It was in 1833, when the Oudaya tribe driven from Fez by Sultan Moulay Abderrahman settled there, that it was definitively given the name Kasbah of the Oudayas. As of today, when you enter the oudayas' enclosure through the imposing Bab-Al-Oudayas or Bab Al Kabir, you immediately notice the Andalusian influence: the walls uniformly covered with lime, the omnipresent blue colour, the paved alleys, the massive doors with coloured mouldings. The inhabitants of the Udayas have managed to preserve the site. The houses are well maintained and beautifully flowered. If you are in Rabat, don't forget the Oudayas and passing by the street Bazzo to go to the essential Moorish café, from where you will have a superb view on Bouregreg river.
The Chellah site is probably the oldest human settlement in Rabat. The Phoenicians and Carthaginians, who founded several trading posts in Morocco, probably lived in Chellah. Many dinasties controlled this site, until the Merinids chose it to build their necropolis. As indicated by the inscription in kufic script on the front door, the work was completed in 1339, under the reign of Abu al-Hasan Ali. The gate of the necropolis is a majestic and warlike gate. This fortress door opens onto a small oasis, a haven of peace of about ten hectares where the tranquility of the place is interrupted from time to time by the sound of the storks' beaks. Inside, the site is has enchanting landscape and gardens with a magical atmosphere where the sanctuary of the founder is in the hollow of a valley.
It is the most famous monument in Rabat. Sultan Yacoub El Mansour (12th century) planned to build the largest mosque in the Muslim world, after the one in Samarra, Iraq. Unfortunately, the work was abandoned in 1199. The tower was supposed to peak at more than 60m, but only reached 44m. Originally the site was built to accommodate up to 40,000 people. Nowadays, the site contains the tomb of Kings of Modern Morocco in a masterpiece of traditional Moroccan architecture room.