Rabat was founded as an Arab army outpost in the 12th century and
given the generic name for military encampment, Ribat, which is still in
use today. For centuries Rabat and Salé were rival principalities, but
eventually Rabat began to dominate the area. Salé's power was ultimately
eclipsed altogether by its larger neighbour.
In the early 17th century, Rabat became a centre of anti-European piracy centred at the stronghold of the Kasbah des Oudaias. Rabat was first made a modern capital in 1912 by Morocco's French overlords, and remained the nation's capital after independence in 1956. The city is the residence of the royal family.
It has a much calmer atmosphere than nearby Casablanca. And for many tourists, a visit to Rabat can be a pleasant surprise and a welcome break from the hustle of other Moroccan cities. History-fiends are sure to enjoy wandering the Chellah excavation area and exploring the lovely Oudaias Kasbah.
1 Oudaias Kasbah
Rabat's Kasbah district is one of the city's top sightseeing draws. Inside the 11th century fortress walls, a tranquil and tiny neighbourhood of twisting white-and-blue lanes were built in Andalusian-style. It is a joy to visit and photograph. Also inside, on Rue el Jamma, is the Kasbah Mosque, built in 1150 and the oldest mosque in Rabat. The district has fine views over to Salé and the Atlantic Ocean.
2 Hassan Tower
3 Mausoleum of Mohamed V
4 Chellah Necropolis
5 Oudaias Museum and the Andalusian Gardens
6 Rabat Archaeology Museum
The Roman and Hellenistic exhibits are renowned, and the collection of bronzes is incredibly impressive. Even if you're not a museum-person, this is the one museum on your Morocco travels that you shouldn't miss.