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Things to Do in Rabat

The laid-back Moroccan capital of Rabat is all too often overlooked in favor of its more vibrant neighbors, but the coastal city is more than just a political and administrative center and makes a worthwhile day trip from nearby Casablanca or Fez. Without the frantic traffic jams and frenzied souks that characterize many of Morocco’s big cities, Rabat feels more like a provincial town than a bustling city, but this polite and self-effacing nature is all part of its charm.

This is a city where it’s easy to explore on foot, strolling along the tree-lined boulevards of the French Centreville; shopping for souvenirs and sampling local cuisine in the medina’s many shops and restaurants; and taking in the views from the cliff-top Kasbah of the Udayas. Other key attractions include the landmark Hassan Tower, the lone-standing minaret of Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour’s unfinished mosque; the opulent Rabat Royal Palace; and the Roman ruins of Chellah.
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Hassan Tower (Tour Hassan)
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A Rabat landmark, the 144-foot (44-meter Hassan Tower (Tour Hassan stands tall above the river in the heart of downtown, surrounded by serried ranks of broken columns. After an earthquake in 1755, this is all that remains of an ambitious attempt by 12th-century sultan Yacoub al-Mansour to build the world’s largest mosque.

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Kasbah of the Udayas (Casbah des Oudaïas)
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Part of Rabat’s UNESCO World Heritage–listed old city, the Kasbah of the Udayas (Casbah des Oudaïas is a 12th-century citadel at the mouth of the Bou Regreg River. Besides the fortress, city walls, and gates, the kasbah houses whitewashed streets, the Andalusian Gardens, the Oudaia Museum, and a wealth of authentic eateries.

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Mausoleum of Mohammed V (Mausolée de Mohammed V)
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Near the Hassan Tower (Tour Hassan, the Moroccan king’s grandfather rests alongside two of his sons in the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. The building seems simple from the outside, with its restrained mosaic tiles and horseshoe arches. Inside, as you look down on the white onyx tombs from the gallery, it’s a riot of gold leaf and tilework.

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