RABAT - NOVEMBER 2006
Rabat, located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, is the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco. It is said to be the closest capital city to Lisbon, even closer than Madrid, which is only 650km far away! Probably due to its short distance, it took a bit for me to get there. It happened in Fall 2006...
"HASSAN TOWER - The construction began to be built in 1195 AD, under sultan Yacoub al-Mansour, and was intended to be the largest minaret in the world to crown world's largest mosque. In 1199 al-Mansour died and the construction stopped; the tower reached only 44m from its intended 86m. The tower's design plan is said to have been modelled on the minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, which was also the model for the Giralda tower in Seville. Each façade of the minaret is patterned with different motifs on each face"
"HASSAN MOSQUE - Only several walls and 200 columns were built and what was built was largely destroyed during the famous Lisbon earthquake in 1755"
"MAUSOLEUM - The Mausoleum of Mohammed V, a masterpiece of modern Alaouite dynasty architecture and one of the great monuments of modern Morocco, was inaugurated in 1967 and contains the tombs of the Moroccan king and his two sons, late King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah. The deceased king lies in a sarcophagus of Pakistani white onyx under a gilt cupola made of mahogany and Lebanon cedar"
"OUDAYA KASBAH - The Kasbah fortress, on the south bank of the Bou Regreg estuary, was named after a garrison of mercenaries from the Oudaïa tribe that was set up in Rabat. The Oudaïas, Arab in origin, arrived in Morocco in the 13th century and the sultan Moulay Ismail sent them to Rabat with orders to defend the town. Started to be built in the 12th century, and reinforced during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Kasbah was the Almohade citadel of medieval Rabat, and it is guarded by this arched gate - Bab-Al-Oudaïas ou Bab El Kébir - built around 1195"
"THE PALACE - The Kasbah is an airy «village within the city», and a pleasant place to take a stroll to admire some interesting architecture. It was due to the quality of the Kasbah fortress that Rabat became an imperial capital"
"THE MUSEUM is situated in the opulent lodge built by Moulay Ismail in the seventeenth century after he subdued the pirate republic of Rabat and took over the Kasbah as a garrison for the Oudaias, a Saharan tribe who formed the bulk of his mercenary army. Today the palace houses the Museum of Moroccan Arts featuring exhibits such as Berber jewellery, costumes and local carpets"
"ANDALUCIAN GARDEN is the first of the Kasbah's masterpieces. The exuberance of the vegetation softens the strict geometry of its paths with flowerbeds, bougainvillea and fragrant herbs. A wonderful garden!"
"CAFE MAURE - A visit to the Kasbah is not complete without a stop at the Cafe Maure, which has beautiful views of the river and the sea, to savour gazelle horns (a Moroccan cake) with a mint tea, looking at the boats which dance in the Bou Regreg River at the bottom of the Sale city ramparts"
"OLD QUARTER HOUSES - The houses near the Kasbah and the medina have the delightful white colour on their walls"
"THE MEDINA or old city was created by Muslim refugees from Badajoz in Spain, and is fairly small and uncomplicated when compared to the colourful old city sections of Marrakech or Fez and not as interesting or attractive as these two cities. It is surrounded by water on two sides, and by city walls constructed in the 12th and 17th Centuries. Souika Street is the main artery, where you will find the leather sellers, and in Consules Street shops sell souvenirs and Moroccan craft items such as the famed Rabat carpets"