...

Things to do in Rabat the Capital of Morocco

Rabat is the Capital of Morocco

Morocco’s capital city is Rabat. Rabat, which was founded as a military outpost for operations to Andalusia in the 12th century, afterward withdrew for a while and flourished quickly following the French occupation when the heart of the protective zone was formed.

Where is Rabat located?

Rabat is situated on the banks of the Bou Regreg River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean in Morocco’s northwest.

When Did Rabat Become the Capital?

Founded in 791 by Idris I under the rule of Moroccan kingdoms, the city grew and evolved through time to become an important town. The population rose during this time owing to immigration. The city, which had maintained its prominence from the commencement of the Merini dynasty’s governance in 1250, fell under the control of the Vattasi, a regional dynasty, in 1471. While the Vattasi were beaten by the Saadi in 1553 and lost Fes, the Ottoman Empire, the time’s superpower, was drawn to the issue.

When Abou Hassoun, King of Vattasi, lost his kingdom, he informed the Ottoman Empire and requested assistance. The administrator of Algeria under Ottoman auspices at the time, Salih Pasha, seized Fes back and returned his kingship to Abou Hassoun. The Saadis again regained Fes in 1554, but this time they maintained cordial ties with the Ottomans. During a royal crisis in 1576, Portugal and the Ottomans faced each other. The Ottomans suffered major casualties in Portugal during the Vadiyüsseyil War in 1578, but extended their influence with the sultan who was close to him. Following these events, the Moroccan Sultanate flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries, with Fes as its capital becoming one of Africa’s most prominent cities.

During this time, a new city known as Fes Cedid was built adjacent to the old. With the French mandate in 1912, the city lost its status as capital and became Rabat.

Rabat’s Characteristics

According to 2014 statistics, Rabat has a population of 577,827 people. The city of Rabat has an area of 117 square kilometers. Rabat, which is located on the Atlantic Ocean’s coast, has a Mediterranean climate. Rabat, a seaside city, has mild winters and scorching summers. The average winter temperature is 7 degrees, while the average summer temperature is 27 degrees.

Rabat, which is located on the banks of the Bou Regreg River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean, is a historic and natural wonder as well as an important port city. Textiles, food, and construction are among the city’s economic assets.

The use of excessive spices is a frequent aspect of Rabat and Moroccan cuisine. The major ingredients are saffron and mint.

The use of excessive spices is a frequent aspect of Rabat and Moroccan cuisine. The major ingredients are saffron and mint.

Rabat’s Most Important Sites

Rabat, the political and administrative capital of Morocco since independence in 1955, is not a city that promotes tourism. As a result, you may wander through Rabat as if you were the only one there.

Rabat, the political and administrative capital of Morocco since independence in 1955, is not a city that promotes tourism. As a result, you may wander through Rabat as if you were the only one there.

Chellah, a medieval historical city, Hassan Tower, a mosque tower, and Kasbah, an Arabian hamlet, are all worth seeing in Rabat.

What Should You Do in Rabat, Morocco? Here are 18 suggestions!

If you’ve chosen to visit Rabat, you’re certainly curious about the sights and activities available. I’ve frequently questioned the same thing, but after numerous visits and having several excellent friends who live there, I realized we hadn’t seen everything! I’ve only included twelve must-see Rabat sights here, but there are many more that I had to leave off due to space constraints!

  • 18 Things to do in Rabat
  • The Medina of Rabat
  • Tour Hassan + Mohammed V Mausoleum 
  • Kasbah of the Udayas
  • Rue De Consuls, The Medina
  • Complexe des Oulja
  • Rabat Beaches to Relax On
  • Mohamed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
  • National Zoo of Morocco – Rabat
  • City of Salé 
  • Sale, Medina
  • Great Mosque of Sale
  • The Pirate Slave Prison
  • Unique Things to Do in Rabat
  • Chellah
  • The Mawazine Festival
  • Apia
  • Jidar ‘Toiles De Rue’ Street Art Festival
  • MegaMall 
  • Agdal Train Station 

Rabat’s Medina (old city)


Rabat’s medina and kasbah are separate but related neighborhoods. While most of Rabat is ultramodern, with embassies and vital government business, the medina retains traces of a bygone era. The medina here is significantly smaller than those in Marrakech or Fez, and you’ll probably encounter very few visitors. A Rabati rug is one unique object worth looking for.

A red rug with a rectangular design is the most common type. A geometric motif is inlaid in the midst of the red. A border of a different hue is also present (s). These carpets resemble Turkish or Persian rugs much more than the mountain tribes’ abstract rugs. While this is a different place, my guide on rug shopping in Marrakech may be beneficial.

Hassan Tour + Mausoleum of Mohammed V

The ‘Tour Hassan,’ or ‘Tower of Hassan,’ was commanded by the Great Sultan of Mansour to be completed as the world’s largest tower and mosque in the 12th century. Unfortunately, in 1199, the Sultan died abruptly, and all building was put on hold. These ruins were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.

The two buildings are still the most prominent tourist attractions in Rabat. The stunning tower on one side, guarded by lavishly costumed soldiers on horseback, is a wonderful, serene setting for a quiet picnic (given there is no grass) or a contemplative meditation.

The tomb, which stands across the open area, was erected after Mohammed V, Morocco’s first post-independence ruler, died in 1961. Hassan II, as well as his brother Prince Abdallah, are buried here. The structure is a superb monument to Alaouite Dynasty architecture from the 17th century.

Westerners are in for a treat since most holy sites are inaccessible to non-Muslims. Except on Fridays from 12-2 pm, when the mosque is closed for noon prayers, the tomb invites all visitors inside and even into the modest mosque next door. Sites are accessible for free. Visitors are informed that they are visiting a tomb and a sombre location.

However, bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat since the area between the tower and the tomb has very little shade.

The Udayas’ Kasbah

You’ve probably heard of Morocco’s famed blue city (and if you haven’t, you can learn more about it in this article), but did you know Rabat has its own mini-blue city?

Rabat’s magnificent kasbah (fort), positioned at the mouth of the Bou ReGreg River and dating from the 12th century, is an outstanding and distinctive edifice well worth a walk. The kasbah, which was originally erected to guard against invaders and pirates, is today the icon of the distinctly Moroccan Oudeyas district.

The big, stunning antique entrance of the Oudeyas may be found around the corner of the kasbah; this city inside a city is a must-see for authentic Moroccan flare. Spend a day walking along its cobblestone paths, gazing at hundreds of beautiful blue doors, peeking into the gorgeous Jardin Des Oudeyas (garden), or perusing the artwork at the Musée Des Oudeyas (museum). In any case, don’t miss out on witnessing this wonderful, genuine find.

There’s also a famous tea shop named Café Maure that hasn’t changed much in generations. Café Maure is known for its exquisite Moroccan pastries, mint tea, and coffee, and it is located next to the gardens with a magnificent view of the lake. And while we’re on the subject of overlooks, make sure you visit the Oudeyas’, which is a sight to see in the summer with its hundreds of colorful umbrellas lining the beach below.

The Medina’s Rue De Consuls

The medina of Rabat is smaller and more intimate than most other towns, but it is also considerably more relaxing and stress-free. Starting at the Rue De Consuls, across from the spectacular 14th century Portuguese-built Kasbah and the charming Oudeyas, you may discover carpets, poufs, pottery, and woodwork marvels.

With colorful doors sprinkled throughout the short road, the street is named for the 19th-century diplomats who lived above. It’s a fantastic site for a portrait.

Iazra Leather, which is more or less concealed at the top of the Impasse du Consulat de France (search for the black wrought-iron door and ring the bell if the door is locked), is one of our favorite stores. Saiid, who is fluent in English, would gladly assist you. It’s also directly around the corner from a stunning (dry) mosaic fountain, which makes for a great picture opportunity. This is the place to go for high-end leather and suede items, especially brilliantly colored, wacky purses and wallets. And there’s no odor!

For the exceptional quality of the items, the prices are really cheap. Alternatively, go around the corner to the left to Ayoub’s family store, Boutique Japonais. Although it has an unusual name (the store has no Japanese items), it is a medina institution that Ayoub and his brother Rachid’s father established years ago. The family is still employed there. Ayoub is easy to spot since he constantly wears a black fedora. He is also fluent in English.

Coopéerative Artisanale des Tisserands de Rabat is a colorful co-op that offers blankets, towels, and bed coverings in different fabrics at the top of Rue de Consuls, near to the police station and across from the magnificent kasbah. It’s well worth the journey inside since the choices and pricing are outstanding.

Maison D’Argent, located at the end of the Rue De Consuls, where the main street branches off to the right and the recently covered ‘Rue de Babouches’ (shoe alley), sells beautiful Moroccan silver jewelry at reasonable rates. Two brass lion sculptures stand in front of the business, making it simple to locate. Ask to see the usually locked area off to the right of the Maison D’Argent, which is packed with ancient Moroccan jewelry and looks like a wonderful museum.

Finally, we like Dar D’Art Ceramics, which is operated by two nice brothers, Mohammed and Jawad. The store features a vast selection of Moroccan teapots, platters, and teacups, as well as pottery from all throughout Morocco. Their business is tucked away on a side street near the ancient ‘Pharmacie’ awning, which serves as an excellent landmark and rendezvous point if you wish to go for a walk while your family or friends go someplace else on the Rue De Consuls.

The Oulja Complex

This may not be for everyone, but art aficionados and anybody looking for true workmanship should go. Originally, only potters, the complex today houses many other sorts of workshops — and it is rather large! Even though it’s not far from Rabat, you’ll need a vehicle (taxi) to get here, and make sure the cab waits for you since getting back is difficult.

This location, also known as Salé Pottery Center, may seem uninteresting from the main road, but believe us when we say you will like what you discover inside. Locals buy here for the finest of Morocco’s offerings, including pottery, hammered silver and brass lamps, bamboo, wooden furniture, carpets, colorful baskets, and, of course, tagines. Plus much more!

The facility is located just off the main road and is separated between two complexes that seem unpleasant from the outside, but once inside, expect to be pleasantly surprised. The first complex, which is the furthest from Rabat’s downtown, provides the greatest shopping.

Saiid’s wonderful, well-known pottery business on the corner offers distinctive non-glossy polished ceramics in lovely pastel hues, which we like. The tagine business next door to Saiid’s is also fantastic, and all of the tagines in the pottery center are lead-free. They offer both ornamental and functional tagines.

Please keep in mind that the cooking ones are rust-colored and unglazed. Pottery Slawi, which is closer to the enormous pots on the opposite side, is also a great place to get pottery presents, and the prices are quite fair. Don’t forget about carpets and lamps; Dar Al Assala, Najib’s huge store, offers a lovely range of hand-metaled lamps and rugs upstairs!

Prices are far lower than in any touristic region of any Moroccan medina. A stroll around here is enjoyable, but it’s also perfect if you’re searching for a huge collection of ceramics or a diversity of possibilities. Negotiate the pricing as well!

Beaches to Relax On in Rabat

Rabat is located on the Atlantic Ocean and has beaches! Two famous beach destinations are Temara and Skirat. Plage des Nations is the place to go if you’re a surfer looking for some more challenging waves. Expect dirty white sand beaches and be aware that most Moroccans would not consider touching the sea until the summer months. This is also when the beaches are in better shape and condition.

Mohamed VI Modern and Contemporary Art Museum

I’ve wanted to visit this museum since it first opened, and I was a little nervous since previous Moroccan museums have disappointed me. Not here. I believe that going here is essential since it casts a new light on Morocco and Moroccan art.

The structure is stunning, and the whole show is on par with art museums throughout the globe. One disadvantage is that the banners are entirely in Arabic or French, making it difficult to understand the context of the works. They also feature rotating visitor exhibitions, which have lately included Picasso and Goya.

The lovely museum café also provides a welcome break from the rush and bustle of Hassan. Don’t miss the recently painted ‘Toiles De Rue’ two murals on the museum’s outer walls, which are part of the Jidar Street Festival.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed on Tuesdays, and admission is 10-40 dh.

Rabat Zoo, Morocco’s National Zoo

If you’re traveling with children, the Rabat Zoo is a must-see. It isn’t as glamorous or well-equipped as other of the world’s largest zoos, but it will allow you to observe species endemic to Morocco and the African continent.

Salé, the city

Salé is a fascinating and largely overlooked city located just over the Bou Regreg River from Rabat. Salé’s interesting history is intertwined with a dreadful history of piracy that dates back to the early 1600s. The settlement served as a sanctuary for the famed ‘Salée Rovers’ pirates who dominated the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

From the working-class medina to the little blue boats that transport passengers over the river from Rabat (near the kasbah in Rabat and in front of the marina in Salé) for a few dirhams per person, Salé offers an authentic Moroccan experience.

Speaking of the marina, this freshly built property is ideal for strolling along the water and stopping for lunch at one of the numerous eateries and cafés strewn around the lovely pier. For a private tour of Salé, contact our Morocco desert tours.

Medina, Sale

This medina isn’t as opulent as Marrakech or even Rabat, but it offers a true medina feel. This is a working-class medina; it isn’t glammed up for visitors, and the majority of the people you’ll encounter are going about their everyday lives. If you do want to go shopping, the costs in Sale are lower than in other places, including Rabat.

Sale’s Great Mosque

Built-in the 12th century, this magnificent mosque is Morocco’s third-biggest. Since its erection, it has been demolished and rebuilt several times. One of the most recent instances occurred in 1851, when French soldiers attacked Sale, severely damaging the mosque.

It was and continues to be a religious landmark, as well as a meeting site for Moroccan nationalists in the 1930s as they plotted to depose the French rule. Non-Muslim tourists are not allowed inside but may observe it from the outside.

The Slave Prison for Pirates

Until our hosts at Repose Riad pointed it out on a map of Sale, I had no clue it existed. The ruins may be found on Sidi Ben Achir Avenue, which runs along the city walls. They’re said to be undergoing repairs, and finding them is like finding a needle in a haystack. If you catch a guardian nearby, he will give you a tour for roughly 20 dirhams.
When you wish to go beyond the typical tourist attractions in Rabat, here are a few of the more unusual places to explore.

Chellah

Chellah, an exceptionally gorgeous fort that goes back to Phoenician times in the third century B.C., is nestled above the green Bou Regreg River on the Rabat city side. Around 40 CE, the Romans arrived, followed by the Arabs in the 12th century. Later, the Almohads, Berber kings, utilized the structure as a royal burial place.

The site has beautiful columns and marble sculptures from the Roman period as well as all three dynasties, albeit some are in ruins. It’s also the ideal place to see the famed storks, which nest atop the highest buildings and migrate to Morocco in the winter. Listen out for their signature clapping sounds! Chellah is a great place for a grassy picnic and a walk through history.

The earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755 struck here as well, inflicting extensive damage. Today, seeing the remains and walking around is extremely simple.

All of the picture opportunities are fantastic at the Chellah, especially the wonderful (shaded) Andalucian-inspired garden. For 100-150 DH, you may hire an English-speaking guide (you’ll have to bargain) who will meet you at the front door. Throughout the year, Chellah hosts a variety of music and cultural events, including the renowned International Chellah Jazz Festival in September. Because the ruins offer minimal shade, bring sunscreen. The cost of admission is 70 DH.

The Mawazine Festival is a one-of-a-kind event that takes place

Every year, the Moroccan government presents Mawazine, a massive music festival in Rabat that attracts some of the greatest names in national and international music. It is one of the world’s biggest music events, with millions of attendees. The likes of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Kanye West, and Jennifer Lopez have all performed on Mawazine stages.

There are both free and paid performances; the goal is to bring entertainment to people from all walks of life, particularly those who would otherwise be unable to purchase high-priced tickets to such events.

Apia

Look no farther than Apia’s wonderful co-op if you’re seeking high-quality organic essential oils and cosmetics. Apia is a one-stop shop for exquisite presents in Rabat, with two locations: one in Agdal and a freshly opened second store in Soussi. Everything from jams, olive oils, and honey to cosmetics may be found in the stores.

They also sell preserved lemon jars for 25 DH each pot for cooking tagines. Their clay face mask with rose water is one of our favorites. Apia’s prices are modest for the high-quality items it provides. Gift packaging is available. Apia Agdal has a bit of a parking situation, however, Apia Soussi offers parking just beside the road. A great place to take your guests who want to take home some snacks!

‘Toiles De Rue’ Street Art Festival in Jidar

This unique event (whose name means ‘canvas of the street’) takes place every year throughout the month of April, following the worldwide street mural boom. Massive murals from recent years may be seen driving or strolling through Rabat; a varied, vibrant exhibition of modern and contemporary art.

The painters come from all around the globe, with the youngest being a Moroccan artist who was just 23 years old in April. The organizers produce a map with a circuit of all the current murals being painted during the festival, and you may drive around the city and meet the artists as they are painting.

It’s a fantastic idea to encourage children to be inspired by the art they witness on a daily basis on buildings and structures. It’s also a refreshing break from the usual drab concrete structures that can be seen in many big cities across the globe, especially in poorer areas.

MegaMall

Grab a bite to eat at MegaMall before lacing up your skates at the mall’s good ice skating rink, which is popular with families and children. There is a ‘fun park’ as well as a children’s play area for lively young ones if they aren’t weary after a round on the ice. A bowling rink, a food court, and, of course, shopping are all available at the mall. MegaMall, although not as large as the Morocco Mall in Casablanca, has its own appeal. We suggest making ice skating and bowling reservations earlier in the day, since both locations may become quite crowded in the afternoons and nights.

Train Station Agdal

This may seem a weird place to mention, but the recently built Rabat Agdal railway station is quite breathtaking. This gorgeous station, a large three-level state-of-the-art edifice with a plethora of food and retail options, is also where you can board the equally-new TGV or ‘train à grande vitesse’ (bullet train) either south to Casablanca or north to Tangier. McDonald’s and Starbucks are available for those who want a taste of America.

The MiniSo Shop, a stylish Japanese shop with whimsical items, will appeal to children. A Léonidas Belgian chocolate stand is also present. Please note that Rabat has two railway stations: Agdal and Centre Ville, so make sure you get to the correct one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>