AFRICA PHOTOS / MOROCCO

RABAT


Rabat Morocco Images

Morocco's capital, Rabat, is a delightful surprise, its old quarter full of charm. Lying between the Atlantic coast and the estuary of the Bou Regreg River, it feels pleasantly provincial and is less of a tourist destination than Marrakech or Fez. Divided between the old city and the new, it is easy to walk around - the sometimes tedious hassle that occurs elsewhere is less prevalent here.
The fortified Kasbah is like a Spanish village, light and airy, ali the houses are sparkling white with blue paintwork. Enclosed by huge walls, one enters through the Oudaia Gate, one of the flnest of Moorish gates, built in 1195. Visit the 17th century Royal Palace, with its Museum of Moroccan Arts and enjoy the beautiful Andalucian gardens. A viewing platform at the northern end of the Kasbah gives splendid views over the harbour and the ocean.
Some of Rabat's long and complex history is visible in its 12th century Almohad era walls and monuments, and its Kasbah and medina, which were both rebuilt by Andalucian pirates. Muslims of Moroccan extraction, these were refugees who were expelled from Christian Spain in 1610. Forming an anarchic republic here, their pirate fleet, the Sallee Rovers, captured merchant ships as far afield as the Caribbean during the next 200 years. In 1912, when the French formed a Protectorate here, they built the new town outside the walls, and re-established the city as their capital, which King Mohammed V elected to retain on gaining Moroccan independence in 1956.
The medina, also walled, is more orderly than most. Wander through the clean, narrow, residential streets, stone houses with studded wooden doors rising on either side. Turn a corner and find a mass of busy little shops and stališ, working craftsmen and cafes. The new town, with its parks and tree-lined streets, is obviously French, and contains ali the embassies and government buildings.

See photos: GROTTES D HERCULES      TETOUAN      TANGIER 


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