Rabat, Morocco - Stein Travel



    • 16+ years

    • 12-15 years

    • 2-11 years

    • 0-23 months


Destination Primary Image

Welcome to Rabat

*While Morocco has experienced a number of anti-government rallies in recent months, the government's response has been progressive and there has been no widespread violence. It is wise to consult your travel agent or tour operator before travelling to Rabat, but for now, there is no immediate danger. Tourists are always advised to avoid any political gathering when travelling in Rabat.

Rabat, Morocco's capital, is a modern city with wide boulevards and gardens and light, white buildings, and is for the most part a far cry from the hectic warrens of the other Imperial cities of Marrakech and Fez. It is, however, no less steeped in history with its origins dating back to the 7th century. The King of Morocco lives here in his palace amid trees and flowers. Being an administrative capital the city is somewhat conservative and serious, but there is some local colour to be found in the old part of the city, the Medina, and the Kasbah, where there is a more relaxed atmosphere. Recreational opportunities abound too, with a world-renowned golf course (the Dar Es Salaam Course) and a few lovely beaches at hand. Rabat sits on the Atlantic coastal plain at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, opposite its twin city of Sale.


Climate

Rabat has a mild and temperate climate, its weather ranging from cool in winter (December to February) to warm in summer (June to August). The average high in summer is 82°F (28°C) and winter temperatures drop to an average low of 46°F (8°C). The highest rainfall generally falls in November and December, with July and August being the driest months. The best time to visit Rabat is between April to November.

Language
Arabic is the official language, but eight other languages are also spoken including Berber, French and Spanish. English is generally understood in the tourist areas, but French is the most widely spoken.
Money

The unit of currency is the Moroccan Dirham (MAD), which is divided into 100 centimes. ATMs are available in the larger towns, but can be unreliable; currency can be exchanged at banks or official bureaux de changes, which are also widespread in major towns. Dirhams cannot be obtained or exchanged outside Morocco and receipts must be retained as proof of legal currency exchange, as well as in order to re-exchange money when departing. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger shops, hotels and restaurants. Travellers cheques can be used in tourist areas, but are not prevalent; they are best taken in Euros or Pounds Stirling.

An exceptional collection of Roman bronzes dating from the first and second centuries and recovered from the site at Volubilis, takes pride of place at Rabat's Archaeological Museum. Other artefacts unearthed at sites of Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman settlements around Morocco are displayed on the two floors of the museum.

The massive minaret of the Hassan Mosque, dating from 1195, towers over Rabat, although the huge mosque itself was never entirely completed and was largely destroyed in an earthquake in 1755. The minaret is unusually sited at the centre of the mosque building, and was intended to be 262ft (80m) high, though it stands today at 164ft (50m). Each façade of the minaret is intricately patterned with different motifs on each face. Opposite the Hassan Mosque is the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, one of the great monuments of modern Morocco, inaugurated in 1967. The deceased king lies entombed in white onyx, surrounded by royal guards, and hundreds of Moroccans pay homage by filing through the mausoleum each day.

An airy 'village within the city', the Kasbah is a pleasant place to take a stroll to admire some interesting architecture and see some sights. The Kasbah was the Alhomad citadel of medieval Rabat, and is guarded by an impressive arched gate built around 1195. Inside the Kasbah is the palace and Andalucian gardens, as well as a broad terrace, which gives beautiful views of the river and sea close to the city's oldest mosque, the Kasbah Mosque, founded in 1050. Below the terrace are several fortifications with gun emplacements guarding the estuary, and even further below is a beach, usually crowded with local people.

Rabat's Medina, or old city, was created by Andalucian Muslim refugees from Badajoz in Spain, and was essentially all there was to the city until the arrival of the French in 1912 and the subsequent building of the Ville Nouvelle or new quarter. The Medina is small and not as interesting or attractive as the old city sections of Fez or Marrakech, however the foundouks (traditional cafes) and shops make for a lively atmosphere. Souika Street is the main artery through the Medina, where you will find the leather sellers at the Sebbat souk (footwear bazaar). In Consules Street shops sell curiosities, souvenirs and Moroccan craft items such as copper and embroidery and the famed Rabat carpets.

The Palace in the Kasbah on the Rue Bazzo dates from the 17th century and was built by Moulay Ismail 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, a beautiful classic building, houses the Museum of Moroccan Arts featuring exhibits such as Berber jewellery, costumes and local carpets. The palace grounds contain the beautiful Andalucian Gardens with their sunken shrubberies and flowerbeds, bougainvillea and fragrant herbs.

The seaside town of Temara, about eight miles (13km) from Rabat, is a favourite weekend picnic spot and campsite for city dwellers. The beach has several stretches of sand, some good hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. Temara also sports a zoo and several other leisure facilities, and is near the cave of El Harhoura II.

Emerging from the boulevards of the Ville Nouvelle (New Town) of Rabat one comes across the ruins of Chellah, once the thriving walled Roman port city of Sala Colonia, abandoned in 1154 in favour of Sale across the other side of the river mouth. In the time of the Almohads the site was used as a royal burial ground. The Merenid Sultan Abou El Hassan added some monuments and the striking main gate during his reign in the mid-14th century. Just inside the gate are the Roman ruins dating from 200 BC, which includes a forum, a temple and a craftsmen's quarter.

Volubilis, near the Moroccan town of Meknes sited between Rabat and Fez, was a central Roman administrative city in Africa from around the third century BC, built atop a previous Carthaginian city. Volubilis was unique in that it was not abandoned after the Romans lost North Africa to the Arabs and even the Latin language lived on in the area for several centuries. Volubilis remained inhabited until the 18th century, when it was demolished to provide building materials for the palaces of Moulay Ismail in nearby Meknes, which meant that a great deal of the Roman architectural heritage was lost. Today the ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consist of some well-preserved columns, a basilica, a triumphal arch and about 30 high quality mosaics.


ACCEPT COOKIESTo give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies. Using this site means you agree to our use of cookies. We have published a cookies policy, which you should read to find out more about the cookies we use. View cookies policy.