As we travel through Morocco to each destination, the cities get more and more modern. We finally traded the old, two-lane highway that we traveled all the way from Tangier to Marrakesh for a modern highway as we headed north to Casablanca and Rabat. Casablanca and Rabat are cities that feel much more familiar because you can see European influences in the architecture. Rabat is currently Morocco’s capital city, so the Royal Palace of King Hassan II is here inside of a very large complex. Although it’s in the middle of the city, it’s more sequestered from the hustle and bustle of city life, much more so than other Royal Palaces that I’ve visited. In fact, I believe it’s probably the only place in Morocco where we weren’t approached by beggars or panhandlers. Maybe King Hassan doesn’t want the palace to be inundated with the realities of his kingdom.
While in Rabat we visited the Chellah necropolis, which is home to the tomb of Mohammed V, one of Morocco’s previous kings. His tomb is magnificent—the ceiling alone is a work of art with the sort of detail that seems common in Muslim palaces. Although visitors to the tomb are allowed to take pictures, they are advised not to speak to honor the fact that it is a holy place. Apparently, this advisement doesn’t apply to the tomb guards, one of whom seized the opportunity to make a few extra dirhams by pestering me to take a picture with him, then asking me to pay for the privilege. I didn’t.