An expatriate explores the melange of ancient, colonial, and modern architecture in Morocco’s capital city.
Colorado – The unique Moroccan architecture immediately struck me when I first explored the Medina of Rabat. I walked through narrow passageways, overcome with a sense of awe and wonder. I had never seen anything quite like it.
Stone archways covered cobblestone streets as cats lounged next to tile fountains. A minaret rose in the distance, piercing the blue sky and casting long, dark shadows.
I continued my walk through the winding streets, emerging near the Kasbah of the Udayas. Intrigued, I entered the blue labyrinth as thick wooden doors towered above me.
I sauntered on in silence, my hands deep in my pockets. The streets narrowed into walkways. Splashes of bright blue, intermingled with white, captured my attention. Everything was covered in these colors, adding to the unique aesthetic of the architecture.
I stumbled upon a small oceanside cafe. The harbor stretched out into the distance. A few people sat around a table, steam rising slowly from their cups.
The kasbah’s crumbling walls rose out of calm, deep waters. Seagulls sailed over the horizon, stark black silhouettes against a blue sky. The breeze blew gently, stirring plants growing out of the stone structure.
I marveled silently at the breathtaking Moroccan architecture. It was truly amazing, in every sense of the word. I was beyond taken aback. The kasbah felt otherworldly and was unlike anything else I had seen in my travels.
I occasionally look back on my time in Morocco, studying the details my photos captured. I am always amazed at the intricate buildings and layered mosaics. The worn stone streets, dotted with food vendors, entrance me.
I am also fascinated with the dichotomy between central Rabat, with its vestiges of colonial influence, and the ancient medina. These two separate parts of the city are drastically different.
Some areas of Rabat have a strong French influence. This European influence from early colonialism is easily discernible in the architecture of the city’s center.
The Medina of Rabat, on the other hand, represents the cultural origins of Morocco. Locals frequent the neighborhood that is packed with food vendors, stores, and tightly-packed neighborhoods.
The kasbah is also a very cultural part of Rabat. It feels less authentic then the medina, heavily frequented by tourists, but it is still an amazing place to visit.
This distinct separation fascinated me throughout my time in Morocco. I always notice this stark contrast in my photos, while looking back on my trip.
Here are some of my best photos from my time in Rabat, Morocco. My goal is to capture the division between colonially influenced Rabat and the medina.
I hope these photos inspire you to visit this city and explore the country of Morocco. In my opinion, the photos represent the wonders of the culture, truly capturing the unique architecture of Morocco.
Medina of Rabat
The Medina of Rabat is a labyrinth of walkways, alive and full of frenetic energy. Street vendors sell fast food as the locals mingle.
The main street extends through street vendors’s stalls, clothing shops, and electronics stores. Smaller walkways branch off in different directions, twisting through neighborhoods and under curved arches.
The Medina of Rabat feels authentic and cultural. This is especially apparent in the architecture, which is both arresting and unique.
Many aspects of the medina feel ornate and old. I was stunned by the intricacies of large wooden eves, the layered tiles of the fountains, and the thick wooden doors.
The Medina of Rabat is alive with color. Splashes of dark red counterbalance vibrant blues and yellows.
The medina’s detailed murals also fascinated me. They stopped me in my tracks, their distinctive blend of colors capturing my attention.
Kasbah of the Udayas
Walking through the kasbah, I was overcome with a sense of awe and amazement. The blue walls, covered in piercing blue, stretched above me. As I walked deeper into the neighborhood, the pathway narrowed.
When the path slowly began to widen again, it revealed the turbulent waters of the Atlantic ocean stretching off into the horizon. The view was spectacular.
The worn stone walls dropped off sharply at my sides. A breeze blew gently and ruffled my hair as I took in my surroundings. A surfer crested a wave in the distance, gliding smoothly.
The kasbah felt like its own unique maze, different from that of the medina. The colors and the architecture melded together brilliantly. Blue or white accentuates everything in the kasbah, making for a unique aesthetic.
The small details of nearby buildings caught my attention. Small terraces on rooftops overlooked the city of Rabat. Sunlight filtered through them, obscuring the shapes of colorful pottery and plants.
Nearby wooden window shutters remained open. A cat quietly lounged on the windowsill as the call to prayer echoed through the streets.
I found the doors of the kasbah to be especially beautiful. They are both ornate and old, with large brass knockers and intricately woven designs.
The one downside to the kasbah is the crowds of foreign tourists. Despite being truly stunning, the kasbah is one of the most popular destinations for those visiting Rabat.
Rabat’s Colonial City Center
The architecture in Rabat’s colonially-marked city center is very European. Walking through central Rabat the numerous boulevards and cafes transported me to France.
This part of the city is not as cultural. It is still vibrant, alive with peddlers, booksellers, street vendors, and Moroccan men chatting on patios.
In comparison to the Medina of Rabat, the buildings in this colonial section felt regal and conservative. It almost felt as if I was teleported back to an early colonial city.
In parts of this colonial section the architecture feels very modern. This presents a stark contrast to other areas of central Rabat where the French influence is quite noticeable.