Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
by Heather F
Heywood, Victoria, Australia
May 10, 2007
From journal Rabat Sights
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
November 6, 2004
The Kasbah stands on the south bank of the Bou Regreg estuary. It 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. The sultan Moulay Ismail sent them to Rabat with orders to defend the town after a number of acts of violence carried out in the neighbouring countryside by the Zaër tribe.
The Kasbah fortifications were built during the Almohad dynasty and reinforced during the 17th and 18th centuries. Moulay Rachid built the first bastion to defend the southern part of the town between 1666 and 1672, and some of its cannons can still be seen today. The wall, 8 feet wide and 26 to 32 feet high, is built out of quarry stone and bordered by a sloping esplanade.
The Oudaïa Gate on the north side is a monumental archway in red-ocher ashlars with two tall wooden doors flanked by two towers. It was built in the 12th century and appears to have been more ornamental than functional. The façade is decorated with partially erased Kufic lettering and, unusual in Morocco, with depictions of animals.
One of the towers has been converted to incorporate three art galleries. The Oudaïa Palace was built by Yacoub el Mansour, who probably used it both as a court and as a reception hall. To the left of the palace lies the El Alou Cemetery, and further to the west is the 17th-century fortress of Moulay Rachid.
Within the Kasbah, on the main thoroughfare set back from the Rue Jamaa, stands the Jamaa El Atiq, the oldest mosque in Rabat, dating back to the 1150. The minaret, with its decorative arches, was restored in the18th century by English architect Ahmed el Inglis. The Dar Baraka, or House of Good Fortune, which also stands on the main thoroughfare, has one of the most beautifully decorated doorways in Rabat. At the end of the Rue Jamaa, on a platform in an imposing position overlooking the Bou Regreg estuary and the town of Sale, is a 17th-century signal station and an 18th-century warehouse now used as a school and carpet workshop. At the north end of the platform, a narrow street leads down to small round tower built as a defensive position and then eventually to a beach.
From journal Royal Rabat
Halifax, Nova Scotia
January 21, 2004
We found this "Morocco within Morocco" absolutely hustler-free and virtually tourist-free. Its Cafe Maure is situated on a high terrace where you can sip mint tea and munch on amazing macaroons with local paramours. Below, waves from the Atlantic crash, the beach and corniche zigzags below, seagulls careen overhead . . . *sigh* If a guide offers his services, decline. You will not need one.
From journal On the Road to Morocco
December 12, 2002
The main entry point to the Kasbah is through the attractive Bab Oudaia, a gateway dating from about 1195. You may run into an eager would-be tour guide here, but you really do not need one at all. It is a wonderful experience to meander these lonely streets at your own pace and without any encumbrances. Walk towards the northern edge and enjoy the stunning views from various lookouts and terraces. You can see (and hear) the churning waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the sturdy walls of the Kasbah, and stare across the river to Rabat's sister city of Sale, fronted by its own cemetery. Sale looks very close on the map, but from the lookout a good mile or two separates the two cities (most of it being the muddy riverbed). Look down and you can see the murky local beach. You may encounter a tour group here enjoying sweet mint teas, construction workers hauling cement to repair some of the old houses originally built by Muslims from Spanish Andalucia, and stray cats looking for some attention. The Kasbah Mosque may not draw as much attention as the cats or the seaside views, but it is the oldest mosque in Rabat (dating from 1050 though heavily rebuilt in the 18th Century).
The Kasbah area also features the Andalucian Gardens, with a host of pretty flowers and accompanying critters (grasshoppers, snails, butterflies) that are attractively enhanced after a light drizzle. Despite the Andalucian moniker, French colonial authorities engineered the construction of the gardens, hemmed in by defensive walls. Nearby is the Museum of Moroccan Arts, housed in a 17th Century palace built by Moulay Ismail, who is credited with booting out pirates who had previously occupied the Kasbah area. If you have the time, stop in to see the sultan's living quarters, colorful carpets and clothing, and a collection of traditional musical instruments.
The medina itself is fairly small and uncomplicated when compared to the colorful dens of Marrakech or Fes. It is surrounded by water on two sides, and by city walls constructed in the 12th and 17th Centuries. The streets closest to the modern Ville Nouvelle are fairly dry, straight and uncomplicated. Those closer to the ocean, like in the Kasbah area, are smaller, twistier, and a bit more colorful, with walls painted white and blue like those found in the Greek Islands.
From journal Bill in Morocco - RABAT