|John Booth (New Zealand):|
I travelled to Rabat by one of the frequent trains from Casablanca Port.
The contrast between the old and new was most pronounced here, with the ancient Kasbah des Oudiadas on its rocky promontory only a short tram ride from the stark white structure of the Cathedral of St Pierre.
|Date posted: January 2014|
|Ian Cade (England):|
Rabat may not be everyone’s cup of tea but we ended up really enjoying our trip there. The official title of the WHS is a little cumbersome but does actually reflect the qualities of the site, highlighting the continuation of the urban landscape from the roman period to the present day.
While some new towns in North African cities can seem sterile or lacking character, the one in Rabat doesn’t just fall into being this sort of dead, commercial space - it is a living, essential part of the whole city. It was our introduction to the city, as we came in through the lovely train station being surprised by the cosmopolitan atmosphere and the hurry of bureaucrats heading off to their offices; it was almost like being back in London and I must admit this sense of home was welcome after a bit of time in the labyrinths of Fez. After admiring some of the architecture and some Italian food we headed off to see the more monumental sites.
The Chella was our first stop, and on reflection was our favourite spot in the city. The drive there gave us great sweeping views of the city walls and once inside the mixture of Roman and Islamic ruins proved to be very entertaining. Perhaps our favourite part though was the gardens at the bottom where we sat listening to the trickling fountains whilst watching the storks fly back and forth from their comically large nests.
A shared taxi took us to the Tour Hassan; the remains of a massive, uncompleted mosque. The tower was originally meant to be the largest minaret in the world, but it now sits at the end of a large square of partially erected pillars, leading to the elaborate though somewhat sterile modern Mausoleum of Mohammed V. After this visit we headed up to the Kasbah which is chock-full of pleasant winding lanes, whitewashed walls and some pleasant Andalucían gardens. It also offers lovely views across the harbour to the Salé, showing what was once the feared home of the famous Barbary pirates. From the Kasbah we had a nice stroll through the medina, which was very active but not as intense as many of the other royal cities in the country.
Rabat showed a mix of many different influences but here especially the relationship between Islamic and French ideas really worked well, instead of being two separate entities. Rabat manages to incorporate the wide boulevards of the French Ville nouvelle into the overall plan of the city making one unique whole, and also it is home to some pretty impressive Islamic sights (Chella, Kasbah, Tour Hassan). Whilst it may be stretching it to suggest that many would find this to be a highlight of Morocco I still think it is well worth a visit to find a coherent mix of the many aspects that make up contemporary Morocco.
[Site 6: Experience 8]
|Date posted: September 2013|
Have you been to Rabat, modern capital and historic city: a shared heritage? Share your experiences!