Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Morocco: Hassan Tower and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V

Rabat was a big eye-opener for me. Having been to Casablanca before in 2014, I had a chance to go see Rabat, which is only an hour’s drive away. I chose not to. I had very little knowledge of this capital city. Besides having a limited time in the country, I chose to concentrate on the mysterious Casablanca. Just the name alone lures the romantic in me.

So when this tour started in the capital city, I had no preconceived notion. The lazy in me did not even Google the images. I adopted the attitude of “surprise me”. In fact, I took that attitude to all the other cities that we were going to visit. I initially started to research, but each time I pick a place/spot, it’s already in our itinerary. Thus eventually, I raised my hands in submission. Let them do the dirty work, that’s why I paid for a guided tour, didn’t I?

The third of the four stops in Rabat is the complex containing both Hassan Tower and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, a UNESCO Heritage Site. The two spots are located across from each other. In between them are columns and unfinished wall. The tower is a minaret that was intended to be the tallest and the mosque to be the largest in its time. Begun in 1195, but stopped in 1199 when Yacub al-Mansour, the founder of Hassan Tower died. This is a good read about the tower.

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The mausoleum, also called the Taj Mahal of Morocco, is as ornate and as lavish as Taj Mahal is. The building is covered in tiles and carvings. As part of our guided tour we were given a short time to visit this place. We were given the afternoon for our leisure and we chose to return here on our own. As a matter of fact, we had to walk from near the souk where we had our sumptuous lunch. On the way we passed by street vendors selling clothings, shoes, kitchen supplies, etc. We took our sweet time browsing at merchandize, watching craftsmen do their thing, and even boys practicing their tumbling in grassy areas near the road.

The mausoleum is the resting place of the late King Mohammed V and his two sons late King Hassan II and Prince Moulay Abdullah.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Morocco: The Storks and Cats of Chellah (Rabat)

As I said in the previous post, I expected to see cats in Morocco. Well, everywhere to be exact! But storks? I haven't even seen them in person before this day and so seeing so many nesting in Chellah was such a treat.

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Is that an egg precariously hanging on the side of the nest?

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The resident cats had made the visit to Chellah even more memorable. Although these cats are not friendly to strangers.

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