Visiting the Top attractions of the ancient Rabat
Rabat is the capital of Morocco, a modern city along the western coast of the country that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
The city is the main center of the traditional cuisine and architecture of Morocco, a real jewel famous for its many historical monuments date back to the Phoenician period, Roman period, Almohad dynasty and the Marinid Berber dynasty.
During our way from Casablanca to Meknes, we spent a few hours discovering its most exciting attractions and wandering in its vibrant Medina.
Let’s go! Wander with us through Rabat!
1) Oudaia Kasbah and Andalusian gardens
The first stop is the stunning Oudaia Kasbah, a real gem of Rabat and our favourite spot.
Perched on a rocky hill facing the ocean and the river, enclosed by high ramparts of the Almohad period, owes its name to the Arab tribe of the Oudaias, who were settled here by Moulay Ismail in 1672 to protect the city from the attacks of the rebel tribes.
Get lost in its picturesque narrow alleys lined by white and blue painted houses, have a look at the oldest mosque of Rabat and sipping a mint tea tasting local sweets on the Cafè Maure terrace facing the river is a must do.
Leaving the terrace, on your way out, you’ll pass through the peaceful Andalusian Gardens, built by the French in the early 20th century, that boast beautiful flowers and fruit trees.
Here, hosted in the historic Palace of Moulay Ismail, you’ll also find the Oudaias Museum that features a rich collection of Moroccan crafts and artworks.
The Kasbah is small, and the visit takes up to 1 hour (or less, it’s up to you). You can start from the old Bab Oudaia gate (dates back to 1150) and first wander on your left side through the alleys and along the main street Rue Jamaa, then continue downhill until you get to the Cafè Maure terrace where you can seat and drink a mint tea tasting local sweets.
2) Medina and souk
Right in front of the Oudaia Kasbah, we go on visiting the lively Medina and wandering through its narrow alleys plenty of many examples of traditional architecture, souks selling any goods, mosques and cheap restaurants where to taste delicious local dishes.
You can spend here 1 hour strolling on the vibrant Rue Consults, then Rue Souk es-Sebat (covered marked selling leather, jewels and fabrics) and Rue Souika (the main street of the Medina) until you reach the old Andalusian wall and Bab el Had gate.
3) Hassan Tower and Mausoleum of King Mohammed V
After leaving the medina, our next stop is the Hassan Tower and Mausoleum. Despite its shape that appears split in its half, the Tower is one of the most prestigious monuments in Rabat.
It was supposed to be the minaret of a majestic mosque that the Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour intended to build in the late 12th century.
After his death in 1199, the construction was stopped and left to decay. This large site is also dotted by tens and tens of columns that were supposed to form the prayer hall of the mosque.
Just opposite the Tower, watched over by a Royal Guard for each entrance, is located a group of buildings that include a mosque and the Mausoleum with the tomb of King Mohammad V, father of Moroccan independence, and his two sons.
Its highlights are the magnificently decorated dome and the captivating carvings that lie inside the plain white building.
The visit to this spot takes just 20 minutes.
4) Chellah Necropolis
Our last stop is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Chellah, the old necropolis of Rabat.
It stretches on the old Roman city of Sala Colonia and walking inside its walls is still possible to see the ruins of the Decumanus Maximus, the forum, a monumental fountain and a triumphal arch.
Around the 14th century, it was used as a necropolis by Abou el Hassan, the greatest of the kings of the Marinid dynasty.
The King commissioned the construction of the walls that protected the entire area, the imposing gate at the main entrance and numerous others buildings, including a mosque, a mausoleum, a Madrasa and numerous royal tombs.
The visit takes around 45 minutes, and the ticket costs 70 MAD.
Need to Know
1) When to go and how long
All year round but the best seasons are spring and autumn to avoid the intense heat of the summer season and perfect for strolling around. On our itinerary, we got to Rabat from Casablanca about 11.30 am, and we spent about 4 hours visiting its attractions before heading to Meknes.
2) How to get there
If you are travelling on your own, the cheapest way is by bus or train (around 1 hour and a half) from Casablanca. If you decide to have a more extended trip through Morocco, the best way is to book a private car with a driver through a local agency to avoid wasting time and do all your visits with no rush. In our 2 trips in Morocco, we arranged the vehicle with a driver with Tizi trekking and Atlas discovery.
3) Tour packages
4) Where to sleep and eat
If you decide to have an overnight in Rabat, you’ll find affordable accommodations and cheap restaurants in the Medina; alternatively, in the Ville Nouvelle (New Rabat) there are some beautiful modern hotels as well as a large number of excellent restaurants, clubs and pubs.
5) Are you looking for the best websites and companies to save money with?
Check out our Travel Resources for the best companies to use for arranging your trip!
6) Travel insurance
We never leave without insurance since it’s the most important thing when travelling. We got our comprehensive protection with Worldnomads.
7) Guide book
We always choose the useful Lonely Planet.