"Rabat" Morocco Favorite Tip by traveldave

Morocco General: 374 reviews and 375 photos


Favorite thing: The area that would one day become Rabat was first settled in the third century B.C. by Berbers. The settlement, located at the mouth of the Bou Regreg River, was called Chella. In 40 A.D., Chella was conquered by the Romans, who changed its name to Sala Colonia. The Romans remained until 250 A.D., at which time they abandoned their colonies in North Africa.

Sala Colonia was ruled by local rulers until 1146, when the Almohad sultan, Abd al-Mouman used the town's ribat, or fortress, as a base from which to attack Spain. The fortress was called Ribat el-Fath, or "Fort of Victory", which was eventually shortened to Rabat, the name of today's city. It was during this period that Yacoub al-Mansour moved his capital to Rabat. He built the Kasbah of the Oudayas, and started construction on what would have been the world's largest mosque. However, that project was abandoned upon his death.

After the death of Yacoub al-Mansour, Rabat's importance declined significantly. Political and economic power shifted to Fez, and the town lost most of its population. In 1515, it was reported that there were only 100 inhabited houses left in Rabat.

In 1627, Rabat and the neighboring town of Salé united to form the Republic of Bou Regreg, which was run by Barbary pirates. They used the port as a base for launching attacks on shipping. Although the republic collapsed in 1818, Rabat remained under the control of pirates. The city was shelled by the Austrians in 1829 after one of their ships had been attacked by pirates.

In 1907, the French established a protectorate over Morocco. The French administrator, general Hubert Lyautey, made Rabat the capital in 1912 because of instability in Fez, which was the capital at the time. During French rule, the Nouvelle Ville, the modern section of the city, was established as an administrative sector. After Morocco gained its independence in 1956, King Mohammed V decided to keep his capital at Rabat.

Nowadays, Rabat is a city with about 2,000,000 inhabitants. Although residents of Casablanca consider it to be a provincial city, there are many interesting attractions that date from Roman times up to the present.

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 27, 2010
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