Kasbah des Oudaias
An airy 'village within the city', the Kasbah is a pleasant place to take a stroll to admire some interesting architecture and see some sights. The Kasbah was the Alhomad citadel of medieval Rabat, and is guarded by an impressive arched gate built around 1195. Inside the Kasbah is the palace and Andalucian gardens, as well as a broad terrace, which gives beautiful views of the river and sea close to the city's oldest mosque, the Kasbah Mosque, founded in 1050. Below the terrace are several fortifications with gun emplacements guarding the estuary, and even further below is a beach, usually crowded with local people. The views from this ancient stronghold are marvellous (it is worth heading onto the beach to take photos of the Kasbah walls if you are a keen photographer), and a little cafe perches next to the palace, where visitors can have traditional mint tea and almond cookies while admiring the view. The winding alleys and characteristic blue and white buildings give the area a cool and peaceful allure. The Kasbah des Oudaias is on the Tentative List with UNESCO and may soon be declared a World Heritage Site.
The Palace in the Kasbah on the Rue Bazzo dates from the 17th century and was built by Moulay Ismail after he subdued the pirate republic of Rabat and took over the Kasbah as a garrison for the Oudaias, a Saharan tribe who formed the bulk of his mercenary army. Today the palace, a beautiful classic building, houses the Museum of Moroccan Arts featuring exhibits such as Berber jewellery, costumes and local carpets. The palace grounds contain the beautiful Andalucian Gardens with their sunken shrubberies and flowerbeds, bougainvillea and fragrant herbs.
Address: Kasbah des Oudaias, off Rue des Consuls
Opening times: Museum: 9am to 12pm and 3pm to 5.30pm (closed Tuesdays).