Since 1956, Rabat (“Er Ribat” in Arabic = fortress) has been the capital - and the seat of government - of the Kingdom of Morocco, but already from 1912 on, it had been the capital of the French protectorate in Morocco. Situated on the left bank of the river Bou Regreg, right where it opens into the Atlantic Ocean, Rabat is facing its opposite twin city Salé. It is the successful union of oriental flair and European ambience that makes Rabat the perfect place for any western guest to get accustomed to the country and its art of living. Especially the liaison of the Medina and the new town - the traditional Maghribian life and the French influence – touches visitors deeply. Rabat’s character is dominated by its political role, as next to a charming old city, Rabat boasts a modern new town with wide, well-kept boulevards and business streets, a spacious government district and a whole separate quarter holding the king’s palace. Additionally, the impressive suburbs house various embassies and precious mansions owned by wealthy Moroccans. The business district of Rabat is equally vibrant – large firms, various banks and the state bank are situated here and create a quite international flair. West and southwest of town, the food, leather, and textile industry have relocated ever since Morocco gained independence.
The system of education clearly has its place in Rabat as well, featuring the great University Mohammed V - second only to the one in Casablanca. Being one of the four Cities of Kings with a vast historical heritage, Rabat is also an important tourist attraction, holding one of the best known landmarks of Morocco, the Hassan Tower. It is the minaret of an incomplete mosque Abou Youssouf Yakoub el Mansour started to build in 1191, while turning Rabat into his capital. Close to those ruins, a mausoleum of Mohammed V was erected in 1967 - one of the most outstanding constructions in the New Moorish style and the supposedly finest piece of Islamic architecture of the last decades. The Vietnamese architect Vo Toan designed the tomb site while the most dexterous Moroccan artisans realized his plans with utmost care and the finest materials.
Due to a long history as the core of government, administration and cultural aspects, Rabat features a high number of prestigious buildings – the ancient ones among them are embellishing the atmosphere of the new town with their colonial style. Among the many sights, the Medina is certainly worth a visit: south of the Kasbah, the old town and its market stretch out in white and blue colors. In contrast to the Medinas in Fès and Marrakesh, there are only very few tourists to be seen here. Carpets are another keyword bound to Rabat, as the Rabat- and Mediouna-carpets are a Moroccan-Arabic “town specialty” - and complement the extensive supplies of the Berber carpet weavers in an interesting and charming way.