Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Morocco Tour Part III: Rabat - Casablanca - El Jadida

Our journey across Morocco continued to three different cities and to the coastal regions, where the landscape was green and lush. The sky was very blue and we drove alongside first the Mediterranean sea and later the Atlantic. Here are some pictures from the final stops on our great Moroccan tour.

Not only desert and mountains! This is also Morocco, green fields and lush landscape.

We reached the capital of Morocco and political city Rabat on the Atlantic coast. There is almost two million inhabitants in the greater region and it was founded in 1146. This is the fourth, and last, royal city on our tour and it is the city where the king of Morocco spends most of his time. The medina of Rabat is small and not so commerical as the ones in Fes or Marrakech. 

The medina of Rabat consists of basically a couple of shopping alleys, one for arts and handcraft and another one for utilities and food. There is a fortress overlooking the city and the harbour with some nice fish restaurants. The main attraction is the unfinished mosque, the Hassan II tower. Rabat is a beautiful little city overlooking the ocean.

Rabat on the Atlantic coast, the capital of Morocco since 1912. 

The fortress in Rabat, it was built in the 12th century as launching point for attacks on Spain.

City wall around the medina of Rabat.

Hassan Tower and the unfinished mosque. This was going to be the world's largest mosque but when the sultan Yacub al-Mansour died in 1199 the construction stopped.

The mausoleum of Mohammed V, completed in 1971, contains his tomb together with the tomb of his son Hassan II who died in 1999.

The harbour of Rabat that was run by pirates during the 17th century.

The beautiful Bab Oudaia Gate is the entrance to the historic kasbah.

The souk in Rabat is small and basically consists of two streets.

Blue and white are the main colours in Rabat that is known as the "White city".

Colourful alley in the medina

Disco and Per both enjoyed their visit in the capital.

Chella, an old roman ruin site blended with newer arabic ruins, is worth a visit! Just a short drive outside Rabat.

After Rabat we continued to Casablanca. Let's be honest, the only romantic and mythical thing about Casablanca is the name of the city, that is shared with the classical Bogart-Bergman-movie from 1942. Casablanca is a big, industrial port with boring buildings and not very much to see. The best restaurants seem to be found in the five star hotels. 

The film Casablanca was shot 100% in Hollywood but there is a replica of Rick's Cafe if you are a fan of the movie and that is a huge tourist attraction of course. Here you also find the only mosque in Morocco open to non-muslims, the beautiful Hassan II mosque.

Rick's Cafe, a replica from the film Casablanca. It opened up in 2004 and the in-house pianist knows fairly well how to play "As Time Goes By" now.

Classic Bogart, art at Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche hotel.

Hassan II mosque in Casablanca that was completed in 1993 is the world's second largest mosque. However the 210 meter high minaret is the largest in the whole world.

Hassan II mosque, named after the former king of Morocco. It is said he paid most of the $700 million construction bill from his own pocket. The rest was financed by donations from over 12 million people.
Impressive interiors of Hassan II mosque. The prayer hall has room for around 25000 people at a time.

In Casablanca there is a cathedral called Sacre Coeur, build by the French but is not in use anymore. Approximately 1% of the population in Morroco are christian.
Five star Sofitel was one of the best things with Casablanca. We can strongly recommend it and they also welcome dogs.

Final stop on our great Morocco tour was the coastal town El Jadida, a beautiful genuine little pearl that we fell in love with. The medina of El Jadida is small and surounded by an old Portugese fortress. The breeze from the ocean is lovley and there are some nice restaurants as well. The pace is slow and not many tourists find their way here. There are good waves for surfing and long nice beaches. 

We would actually like to go back and look at some small property in El Jadida, it would be great to have a place on the Atlantic coast when the heat hits Marrakech!

The medina of El Jadida, founded in 1502 by the portuguese who called it Mazagan.

The fishing harbour of El Jadida.

The medina is small, relaxed and very nice. UNESCO registrered El Jadida as a World Heritage Site in 2004.

A touch of Tuscany, just 5 minutes outside El Jadida.

We stayed at beautiful Dar Al Manar where the nice owner Fatima took care of us for a couple of days.

The fortress surrounding the medina of El Jadida, with 8 high and 10 meter thick walls, protected the city and the Portuguese for over 250 years before it was taken over by a marockan sultan in 1769.

An underground water cistern from 1514, originally used as weapon storage

The Atlantic coast and "the Titanic of El Jadida", a stranded ship.


We all enjoyed a day at the beach!

We had a truly amazing tour across Northern Morocco, it is a fantastic country with impressive and dramatic nature as well as very nice cities. This is without a doubt one of the best trips we have ever made, right into our top list next to Galapagos, Kenya, Borneo and Peru.

After a long trip and many new impressions we returned to our beloved Marrakech, still our favourite city, and met up with two Swedish friends for some fun days in the Red City.

Back in Marrakech we are enjoying lunch at La Sultana. We had a blast with Fredrik (a lawyer) and Magdalena (world champion in thai boxing and a gladiator!)

Now we are back to our daily routines in Marrakech, have a great week!