Rabat, “the fortress of victory”
Morocco’s political capital, Rabat, is also one of its four imperial cities. This port city on the Atlantic Coast was built in the 12th century on the mouth of the Bouregreg, a great oued of the Middle Atlas. Rabat is the custodian of Moroccan history, and also a great base for some beautiful excursions! The city surrounded by water impresses with its Roman, Andalusian and Marinid traditions. Protected by powerful ramparts, its medina encloses many monuments and museums. Don’t hesitate to venture here; it is quite easy to visit and get around!
- Dive straight to the heart of the medina through the Wall of the Andalusians and the elegant Bab Chellah gate. You will now be on avenue Hassan II in the middle of Rabat’s central market. From here, take rue Souika in the direction Souk Sebbate, to discover all of the city’s merchants and their stalls. At the end of the road, you can choose between taking the rue Sidi Fatah to boulevard El Alou to check out the Kissaria neighbourhood and its jewellers or the rue des Consuls to the Kasbah des Oudayas.
- The Kasbah des Oudayas is a veritable fortified village in the middle of the imperial city! It is home to an opulent palace. You can visit its National Museum and stroll through its Andalusian gardens. Once you’ve passed the Bab-al-Oudayas gate, you’ll immediately pick up on the Spanish influence in the colours and general atmosphere. Along the cobblestone roads, houses of every shade of white and blue are decorated with wrought iron embellishments and massive doors with coloured ornamentation. Take a little break at the famous Café Maure, where the view over Rabat’s bay is breath taking. On your left as you leave the Kasbah des Oudayas, take the rue Sebbaghine to end up at Bab el Bahr, the “gate of the sea”, that offers an unbeatable view over Rabat’s ancient harbour.
- To reach the mysterious Hassan tower all you need to do is walk up the Bouregreg on the boulevard Tarik al Marsa. This unfinished 12th century minaret has become Rabat’s lost recognizable landmark, a masterpiece of traditional Moroccan art. During your visit, be sure to admire the gardens at the water’s edge.
- South of the city centre, at the feet of the Almohad walls, discover the fabulous site of the Chellah necropolis: this peaceful place is the last resting place of the Marinid sovereigns. Protected by a fortress favoured by nesting storks, this site was once the antique Roman city of Sala. You can still admire the ruins of a triumphal arc, the forum, its thermal baths and shops.
- Rabat is famous for its museums. We particularly recommend the archaeological museum, the Science and Earth museum and the Belghazi ethnographic museum.
- On the Bouregreg’s right shore, stop to visit Sale a charming little city full of beautiful walks.
- Head off to explore the Sidi Bouknadel gardens, 12 km north of Rabat. Here, exotic plants from around the world grow, and you can follow up your visit with a picnic in the Mamora forest in the middle of Aleppo Pines, eucalyptus trees, and Cork Oaks.
- Finally, discover the Temara beached, 5 km south of Rabat. Extending over 25 km of shoreline these golden beaches are truly superb!
Morocco’s capital, Rabat is located 95 km from Casablanca, 140 km from Meknes and 320 km from Marrakech. The city has an international airport but you can also get there by train, car or bus. Rabat’s region has a Mediterranean climate that is pleasantly mild all year long.
When travelling to Rabat during the month of May, don’t miss the grand Mawazine festival and its world music concerts. In June and July, Rabat’s famous international festival is held combining music, cinema, theatre and photography. Finally, you may hav the chance to witness the “Jazz aux Oudayas” shows: the quality music festival gathers great European and Moroccan artists annually.