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Rabat is the capital and third largest city of the Kingdom of Morocco with a population of approximately 650,000 (2010).It is also the capital of the Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer region.The city is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg.On the facing shore of the river lies Sale,Rabat's bedroom community.Together with Temara the cities account for a combined metropolitan population of 1.8 million.Silting problems have diminished the Rabat's role as a port; however,Rabat and Sale still maintain important textile,food processing and construction industries.In addition, tourism and the presence of all foreign embassies in Morocco serve to make Rabat one of the most important cities in the country.Controversy surrounds sweatshop labour by major multinational corporations in the area.

Rabat is accessible by train through the ONCF system and by plane through the nearby Rabat-Sale Airport.Yaqub al-Mansur (known as Moulay Yacoub in Morocco),another Almohad Caliph,moved the capital of his empire to Rabat.He built Rabat's city walls, the Kasbah of the Udayas and began construction on what would have been the world's largest mosque.However, Yaqub died and construction stopped.The ruins of the unfinished mosque,along with the Hassan Tower,still stand today.

Yaqub's death initiated a period of decline.The Almohad empire lost control of its possessions in Spain and much of its African territory,eventually leading to its total collapse.In the 13th century,much of Rabat's economic power shifted to Fes.In 1515 a Moorish explorer,El Wassan,reported that Rabat had declined so much that only 100 inhabited houses remained.An influx of Moriscos,who had been expelled from Spain,in the early 17th century helped boost Rabat's growth.

Rabat and neighboring Sale united to form the Republic of Bou Regreg in 1627.The republic was run by Barbary pirates who used the two cities as base ports for launching attacks on shipping.The pirates did not have to contend with any central authority until the Alaouite Dynasty united Morocco in 1666.The latter attempted to establish control over the pirates,but failed.European and Muslims authorities continued to attempt to control the pirates over many years,but the Republic of Bou Regreg did not collapse until 1818.Even after the republic's collapse,pirates continued to use the port of Rabat,which led to the shelling of the city by Austria in 1829 after an Austrian ship had been lost to a pirate attack.

How to Reach

By Air

The Rabat International Airport is in the nearby town of Sale.The city has limited international connections, with most tourist flying into nearby Casablanca and then coming into Rabat by train or coach.The airport itself is very tiny,possessing limited facilities (only one runway,one conveyor belt, etc.)so it's definitely not the best way to get into the city.However,the airport is undergoing some major renovations,with the hope of relieving all the flights from Fez, Marrakesh and Casablanca, so it should improve in the not too distant future.

By Train

Rabat is well served by train and you can get frequent connections to most places.Marrakesh is a pleasant 4 hour journey,2.5 hours (if you take one of the new express trains,and 3.5 hours on other trains) and Casablanca 1 hour.There are two stations in Rabat - Centre Ville (Medina/Downtown) and Agdal.A tram and a taxi station are located just next to the downtown train station.Be warned that some travelers report that trains are frequently delayed by over an hour.

By Bus

It's possible to get a bus from almost any town in the country to Rabat. Note,however,that the buses often do not stop at the central bus station,but instead go through the city.It may be a good idea to ask someone which is the correct stop,or use a decent street map to work out where you are.It is easy to miss the main stop and find yourself heading out into the suburbs again,which is not too bad-about a 20-25 MAD ride in to downtown.

Key places to visit
Mausoleum of Mohammed V, Hassan Tower, Chellah, Kasbah of the Udayas, Rabat Archaeological Museum, Mohammed V University, Bank Al Maghrib Museum, Royal Palace


Places to Visit

Mausoleum of Mohammed V

Is a historical building located on the opposite side of the Hassan Tower on the Yacoub al-Mansour esplanade in Rabat, Morocco.It contains the tombs of the Moroccan king and his two sons,late King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah.The building is considered a masterpiece of modern Alaouite dynasty architecture,with its white silhouette,topped by a typical green tiled roof.Its construction was completed in 1971.Hassan II was buried there following his death in 1999.

Hassan Tower

Is the minaret of an incomplete mosque in Rabat, Morocco.Begun in 1195 AD, the tower was intended to be the largest minaret in the world along with the mosque,also intended to be the world's largest.In 1199,Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour died and construction on the mosque stopped. The tower only reached 44 m (140 ft),about half of its intended 86 m (260 ft) height.The rest of the mosque was also left incomplete,with only the beginnings of several walls and 200 columns being constructed.The tower,made of red sandstone,along with the remains of the mosque and the modern Mausoleum of Mohammed V, forms an important historical and tourist complex in Rabat.


Is a necropolis and complex of ancient Roman Mauretania Tingitana and medieval ruins at Rabat, Morocco.It is the most ancient human settlement on the mouth of the Bou Regreg River.The site was abandoned in 1154 in favour of nearby Sale.The Almohad dynasty used the ghost town as a necropolis.In the mid-14th century, a Merinid sultan, Abu l-Hasan, built monuments and the main gate,dated to 1339.These later Merinid additions included a mosque,a zawiya,and royal tombs, including that of Abu l-Hasan.

Kasbah of the Udayas

Is a kasbah in Rabat, Morocco located at the mouth of the Bou Regreg river opposite of Sale.It was built during the reign of the Almohads.When the Almohads had captured Rabat and destroyed the kasbah of the Almoravids in the town, they began reconstructing it in AH 544 / AD 1150.They added a palace and a mosque and named it al-Mahdiyya, after their ancestor al-Mahdi Ibn Tumart.After the death of Yaqub al-Mansur (AH 595 / AD 1199) the kasbah was deserted.The Almohads brought significant changes to the Rabat area, including the destruction and rebuilding of the Kasbah of the Udayas and turning Chellah into a royal necropolis.

Rabat Archaeological Museum

Is an archaeological museum in Rabat, Morocco. Opened in 1932,it contains the most extensive collection of archaeological artifacts found in Morocco.It contains prehistoric and pre-Islamic collections including an extensive collection of objects uncovered by archaeologists working in Volubilis,Banasa and Thamusida,and were first put on display in 1930-1932.This includes human remains from the middle palaeolithic period (probably Neanderthals) to the neolithic (4000 B.C.).A further find in 1957 saw the museum expand considerably,after which it became a National Museum and it has housed the National Museum collections since 1986.Pre-Roman and Roman civilisations are well-represented in the museum with a number of notable Hellenistic-style bronzes such as the Dog of Volubilis,and the marble 'Ephebe Crowned With Ivy and Head of a Young Berber.

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