Parks and gardens, shady streets lined with luxurious residences … Difficult to imagine, when you know the peaceful atmosphere of Rabat, that the city was for centuries a nest of pirates whose raids spread terror on all The seas of the world. Morocco’s administrative capital, Rabat is today the symbol of a modern state. Kilometers of ramparts – the enclosure of the Almohades, built in the XII century, and the Andalusian wall dating from the XVII – surround a city or blend harmoniously European modernism and Muslim traditions. Symbolized by the famous Hassan Tower, the cultural heritage counts of beautiful monuments and museums of a great quality.
Built on the banks of the Bou-Regreg estuary, Rabat offers pleasant walks along the Atlantic coast. Unlike the other imperial cities located in the interior of the country, Rabat is a calm and airy city. It is true that if Rabat remains the administrative and commercial capital of Morocco, it was never its economic capital. Leaving to its neighbor Casablanca the status of economic and industrial capital of Morocco, Rabat could grow and develop in the measure and the serenity. Far from the capitals of the Third World, the city preferred order and cleanliness to early construction.
Since its foundation in 1150 by the Almohads, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans succeeded one another. It knew its hour of glory in the XII century, when its Kasbah played a strategic role in the war against the Spaniards. Sultan YACOUB EL MANSOUR then made Rabat his capital and he subsequently undertook the construction of the Hassan Tower.
The XII century marks the decline of Rabat, when the Almoravid dynasty chose Fez as capital of its empire. In the 17th century, the Muslims driven from Andalusia during the “Reconquista” gave a boost to the city by flourishing trade. In spite of episodic dissensions between the inhabitants of these two cities, due in particular to the activities of corsairs based on salt and reprisals of the European powers, Rabat and Salé succeeded, during the reign of the Alaouite dynasty, to organize and develop , Although Rabat was only a small town of 25,000 inhabitants in 1912 when LYAUTEY made it the political and administrative capital of the French protectorate.
THE KASBAH OF OUDAYAS:
This impressive fortress dates back to the 12th century and houses Andalusian-style gardens, a museum of Moroccan arts and dwellings. It dominates the mouth of the river Bou-Regreg, separating Rabat and Salé. The museum features ancient costumes, pottery and various instruments from all parts of the country. It also has a charming Moorish café overlooking the Bou-Regreg.
THE MAUSOLEE MOHAMMED V:
Designed by the Vietnamese architect VO TOAN, the Mohammed V mausoleum is a true showcase of Moroccan know-how. Its construction was completed in 1971 after 10 years of work in which 400 artisans of the best of the country collaborated. Inside, is the tomb of Mohammed V in the center and, on the left, the tomb of Hassan II. Built in white marble from Italy, the mausoleum is capped with a pyramidal roof covered with green tiles. The royal white Pakistani onyx sarcophagus rests under a dome made of mahogany and Lebanese cedar gilded to the leaf.
THE TOUR HASSAN:
The mausoleum Mohammed V rises on the immense esplanade where stands the Tower Hassan, symbol of Rabat. This never-ending minaret should have been not only the largest mosque, but also the largest religious building in the world. This tower comes from the great unfinished dream of YACOUB EL-MANSOUR. He wanted to make Rabat the capital of his empire, which in the twelfth century extended from Tunisia to Spain.
LA MEDINA :
D’une superficie d’environ 50 hectares, la médina permet de s’y repérer et de s’y déplacer sans prendre le risque de s’égarer. Trois rue principales traversent la médina : une rue parallèle au mur des Andalous, la rue Souika qui devient rue du Souk Sebbate, la rue Sidi Fatah vers le boulevard El Alou, et la rue des Consuls mène à la Kasbah des Oudaya.
La rue des Consuls est ainsi nommée parce que les diplomates étrangers étaient tenus d’y résider au XVII siècle. A cette époque l’activité principale de Rabat était la piraterie et la prise d’esclave. Ces derniers étaient vendus aux enchères sur la place du Souk El Ghezel (devant les Oudayas). Mais les captifs chrétiens ne devenaient pas (en principe) esclaves. Selon un traité signé avec le Sultan, ils devaient être rachetés par les diplomates de leur pays qui disposaient alors d’un budget pour ces rachats. Pour des raisons de commodité, ces diplomates se trouvaient donc à quelques dizaines de mètres du lieu de « négociation ». Cette rue déjà très active était une des rares à être pavée.