In addition to Meknes, Fés and Marrakesh, Morocco’s capital city of Rabat is one of the country’s historic four royal cities. Despite their differences, these cities share a common bond, as they each contain the cultural and architectural treasures of a fascinating epoch.
Rabat has a rich and colorful history and was first settled in the 8th century B.C., nearly 2,000 years before the Hassan Tower was built. With its beautiful minaret, the 18th century Mosquée Es- Sounna is the most outstanding religious building in the centre of the city.
The most architecturally impressive of the four royal cities is Meknès. In the 17th century, Moulay Ismaíl made this city into his own and thus created several new buildings. In addition to the largest gate in the Maghreb, the Bab Mansour, the city’s former 20 kilometre long wall symbolizes a further important legacy and highlights the wealth and flamboyance of the Alaouite Dynasty. Although Meknès is one of the younger Moroccan royal cities, it contains more than 4,000 years of history and its fertile land was even much prized by the Romans.
Fès is the oldest and, at the same time, liveliest of all four royal cities. Beyond its historic walls lies the origin of the Moroccan monarchy as well as numerous outstanding treasuries of the Islamic Middle Ages. Fès Jdid, an earlier section of the old town centre, is dominated by an immense palace, the Royal Palace. Beyond its gilded bronze gates is a small, luxurious world. Numerous architectural gems highlight the former incredible wealth of Fès.
Marrakesh’s history began in the 11th century when the Berber tribe of the Almoravides first settled on the Haouz Plain. In the course of time, the early caravan trade with Black Africa and Marrakesh’s southerly location, transformed the city into what was the most African of Morocco’s four royal cities. Although the legendary caravans have since been replaced by modern roads and motor vehicles, both past and present continue to live side by side.
Even today, each of Morocco’s four royal cities displays the former enormity, power and beauty of Maghreb culture in Morocco thus, their historical monuments still manage to reflect the splendor of the country’s intriguing and glorious past.