Casablanca and Rabat

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Entrance to royal residential area. Gate cartouche is dated 1391 and shows the symbol of Morocco - the 5 pointed star of Islam (being the 5 tenets of the faith).

May 6, 2005 - it felt a bit like the movie "Road to Morocco". Up early again for another 8 am tour call. Boarded the bus for Rabat which is a 1 1/2 hour drive from Casablanca. The roads are very good and we took the highway most of the way.

We passed through the industrialized portion of Casablanca on our way to the highway. Along the highway we passed lots of new construction of houses and apartments. Condos were being advertised by the beach for $25,000.

We also passed lots of small farms and groves of trees. There is a massive reforestation program , but these looked like pine (pinenuts), olive, and date groves.


Palace courtyard - Robin is wearing the straw hat on the leftside of the picture. Our Rabat guide is carring the sign.


A look at the series of doorways and mosaics of the Palace.

We arrived at one of the Royal Palaces. Each Imperial City has one, although this was said to be special as it is in the capital city of Rabat. This is the main palace gate with all its wonderful mosaic work. To the right is the administrative wing and to the left the residence. The compound has a large central court with fountains, old canons, and a Grand Mosque. It also has a very formalized garden where the grass is kept maintained in a very old fashioned way - with a scythe and rake. The compound also has other government builds and a number of private residences.

Formal gardens and gardener with scythe.


Guard at the Mausoleum of King Mohammed V

They next took us to the Chella Necropolois. Here they pointed to ruins of a Roman town from pre-9thC which they are excavating. It was then built on in the 14th C by the Merinids (the ruling clan 12th-14th C). There were ruins from their walls as well. It was destroyed by earthquake in 1755 and today is a lush city park.

What was really wonderful was being able to see, as we drove around, what remained of all the city walls that are this very odd mix of building from the 12th - 18th C.

We drove along embassy row and stopped at the Mausoleum of King Mohammed and 2 other rulers. The Mausoleum is done in carrera marble outside. Inside is this incredible tilework. The inside roof is mahogany which has been guilded.


tilework inside the mausoleum


women's entrance to the mosque next to the mausoleum

There also was a mosque next door with more incredible tilework and faucet/basin areas. Unfortunately we couldn't get really close. Across the courtyard is the Hassan Tower with is a 12th C. minaret, but it is a square tower 144' high. More pictures when we get back.

Next was a welcome stop at a hotel for a drink (mint tea or coca cola) and restrooms. The central courtyard was all beautifully tiled in blue with fountains.


Will in front of one of the fountain & faucet areas


Salee Fortress and Kasbah

Our last stop in Rabat was the Kasbah of the Oudaias and Salee Fortress of the Moroccan Corsairs. It too is a mix of styles. The base is very early - 12th C, with the walls being built and rebuilt for the next 600 years. It also is a city park with a lovely rose garden. Will was fascinated by the octagon tower of the Kasbah (just in front of the large gatehouse). The tower is a later addition. It was built during a transitional time between the older midieval style and the later artillery fortress style. As such it shows features of both in a single work.

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original walls with successive building on top

There also is a section where people live in houses and apartments within the walls. The streets are narrow and frequently include stairs. Boganvilla is all over the place, both here and in Agadir. It comes in all colors and several different varieties too. It gives a lot of color to the houses.

Much of the vegetation is very familiar - just not necessarily the combination of plants. Then there is the different plant, like a walkway lined with the plant that produces the flower and fruit from which they make grenadine.


street of residences in the Kasbah


our local guide in the foreground with the Medina and its tower in the background

We said goodbye to our native guide for Rabat and returned to Casablanca. We dropped off those who decided not to shop and then made a stop at another government store. This one had a greater variety of items.

Then the tour guide took us on a personal shopping spree. We drove to the fabric and garment district, but it was closed for the next hour. It seems that on Friday, the men all go to the mosque to pray at 1 pm. Then siesta time till 3. So we returned to the downtown and went into the Medina (souk). There, with the help of the guide who did the bargaining for us, we were able to purchase some items. He also intervened one time and paid in the local currency and we gave him dollars. Foot sore, tired and happy, we piled into a mini taxi (Fiat) for the 10 minute ride to the pier.

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All text and photos copyright Robin Berry and William Ringer 2005.