Top 8 beautiful and stunning places to visit in Rabat, Morocco
Located on the Atlantic coast, Rabat is the political and administrative capital of Morocco, and the second largest agglomeration of the kingdom. Imperial city listed in 2013 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was founded in the 12th century by the great Almohad sultan "Abd al Moumen".
Wondering what to do in Rabat during your stay? Here is the answer with our 8 essentials to visit in Rabat and taste its pleasures without losing a crumb!
1. Hassan Tower
The Hassan Tower is the only vestige of a mosque that claimed to be the largest religious building of its time. Today, it is considered by many to be the symbol of Rabat. When, in 1196, the Almohad caliph Yacoub El Mansour ("Yacoub the Magnificent") launched the construction of the Hassan Mosque, it was to make it the largest mosque in the world. And even, the largest religious building in the world.
Today, the only vestige of the mosque is its Arab-Andalusian style minaret, 44 meters high and which gave its name to the monument. The oratory, which should have been in front of the tower, consisted of 312 columns and 44 pillars. 14 doors had been pierced. The Hassan Tower was rehabilitated from the 1960s and, highly symbolically, it was at the end of its esplanade that the Mausoleum Mohammed V, the tomb of King Mohammed V and his sons, was erected. In recent years, hanging gardens have been rehabilitated below the Hassan Tower and are open to the public during the day.
2. The historical City of Chellah
Chellah is an ancient medieval fortified city located on the outskirts of Rabat near the Bouregeg River. It is a very quiet and beautiful place, and the entire site is full of abandoned ancient buildings. This historical site is of the ancient Roman city of Sala Colonia, and long used as a cemetery for Moroccan sovereigns. This ancient style with lush vegetation offers a splendid view of the Bouregeg River.
Today, the site is classified and protected by the Moroccan authorities who have seized all the historical and tourist interest of this place like no other. It will take you roughly an hour to visit every corner of it. In the evening, the necropolis takes on its most beautiful colors, it is easier to understand why it arouses so many mysteries and legends.
3. The Zoo
Rabat Zoo is impressive and quite large. The size of this zoo and the sheer quantity of different animals that can be seen here, make this place worth a visit. This zoo also contains a variety of animals that can only be seen in the African safari tours such as elephants, lions, rhinoceroses, and hippos.
For your information, this zoo holds the largest number of Atlas lions in captivity, and forms an artificial biotope sheltering more than 130 animal species originating from the Atlas mountains.
4. The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace in Rabat is the official residence of the King and the royal family.
The official name of this palace is the Al-Mishwar Al-Saeed Palace which means the Palace of Happiness. The Palace also includes administrative and government buildings, gardens, and a large procession square.
The Royal Palace in Rabat can only be seen from a distance because entry is prohibited. However, even from afar you will feel the splendor of this building and its majestic design.
5. The Kasbah of Oudaya
The Oudaya Kasbah is a former fortified military camp, built in the 12th century, today listed on the Unesco World Heritage List. One finds there, in particular, one of the first palaces built by the Alaouites, the royal dynasty, still reigning today.
Oudaya is located on top of a cliff overlooking the place where the Bouregreg River and the Atlantic Ocean meet. The view from the fortified Kasbah is stunning and it is a great place to enjoy the sunset from.
After entering the kasbah through one of the massive doors serving as grandiose guardians of the place, let yourself be captivated by the small blue alleys, the surprising silence contrasting with the frenzy of the modern city center, and the reigning tranquility in the place.
6. The Andalusian Gardens
South of Bab Oudaya, is the Palace Museum and Andalusian Gardens. The Palace was built in the seventeenth-century by Moulay Ismail, the first Almohad sultan to unify the country. Today, it showcases exhibits of Moroccan art and culture. A vast central patio gives access to private quarters and reception rooms containing the exhibits. There is a hall containing oriental rugs made in Rabat, an exhibition hall for musical instruments and a salon reserved for customs and rituals.
The old palace grounds are occupied by the beautiful Andalusian Gardens. Although true to Andalusian traditions, with its flowering annuals and beds of shrubs, the gardens were actually constructed by the French in the twentieth-century. The gardens are a shady retreat, with a profusion of daturas, oleanders, orange, lemon and banana trees.
When visiting Kasbah Ouadia, make sure to have tea and pastries at Cafe Maure set on the grounds of the Kasbah Oudaya with a majestic view of the river.
7. The ancient city of Rabat (Medina)
No trip to a Moroccan city will be complete without spending some time wandering in the streets of the Medina, and Rabat is no exception. Rabat old town is one of the oldest Moroccan cities featuring narrow streets and unique atmosphere.
The Medina of Rabat, even if much less exceptional than that of Fez or Marrakech, will imbue you with its traditional and authentic atmosphere. Surrounded in the east by the Almohad walls, in the west by the walls of the Kasbah of the Oudaya, in the north by the Bouregreg river, and in the south by the Andalusian wall which separates the new town from the old town.
Access to the Medina is through two monumental doors, Bab El Alou and Bab El Had located to the east, along the Almohad walls of the 12th century built by Yacoub El Mansour.
8. Relax on the atlantic coast
Rabat and the nearby city of Sale have beautiful coastlines for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get some fresh sea air.
Rabat also has some beautiful beaches, but the closest ones are usually very crowded, so it may be better to take a shared taxi from the city center to go to the beaches located at about 13 km south of the city.