Hassan Tower was meant to be the tallest minaret in the world. Began by Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour in 1195, it was intended to be nearly 200 feet tall and wide enough to allow a horse to carry the iman to the top for the call to prayer. A mosque was to be built around the bottom of the minaret, but construction on both the minaret and the mosque stopped four years after it started due to the Sultan’s death. It’s still impressively tall, and as a ruddy-brown sandstone tower it stands out against Rabat’s mostly white buildings. I didn’t think to take more pictures, and this doesn’t truly do it justice. Go look at Google images to get the full effect.In the shadow of Hassan Tower is the Mausoleum of Mohammed V; the grandfather and the father of the current king are entombed here. The architecture of intricate carvings and white gleam is a striking contrast to Hussan’s ancient tower and ruined columns. The Mausoleum was built in the seventies, but happily avoids concrete and shag carpeting. Inside is entirely covered in breathtaking mosaic patters, and from a balcony tourists can look down on the marble tomb itself.
The Chellah is the oldest human settlement on the mouth of the Bou Regreg river, from the time of the Phoenicians. Romans built a major port city on the same site, and after them, Arabs used the abandoned city as a necropolis. Later a mosque and a zawiya (Moslem monastery) were built on the site.
On the tally of personal victories, I figured out the panorama feature on my iPhone, so you can get something closer to the full effect.
The Roman section of ruins was difficult to comprehend. I’m on a quest for history and beautiful things, but looking at a Roman tombstone, touching a Roman tombstone… it didn’t click, it felt otherworldly. The best my brain can do is a theoretical sense of awe. I saw artifacts two millennia old!
To finish it off, we caught a glimpse of a traditional Moroccan dance on our way out. Note the pointy slippers; everyone wears them in Morocco, and they’re the most comfortable shoes ever. More on that another time: