Kasbah Des Oudaia in Morocco also referred to as Kasbah Oudaya or Kasbah Udaya, is located at the mouth of the Bou Regreg river opposite of Salé. Kasbah Oudaia has been the citadel of the Alhmohads, Merinids and Andalusians in Rabat. Its location on a rocky outcrop high above the level of the river is an imposing site especially for the pirates of days gone by.
Kasbah Oudaia was built during the reign of the Almohads. When the Almohads had captured Rabat and destroyed the kasbah of the Almoravids in the town, they began reconstructing it in AH 544 / AD 1150. They added a palace and a mosque and named it al-Mahdiyya, after their ancestor al-Mahdi Ibn Tumart. After the death of Yaqub-al-Mansur (AH 595 / AD 1199) the kasbah was deserted.
Bab Oudaia is the principal gateway to the Kasbah – one of the most striking sights in Rabat and certainly one of the most beautiful external Moorish monuments. The gate was built by the Almohad Sultan, Yacoub al Mansour, in 1195. Its purpose was more ceremonial than defensive, designed for a grand entrance into the Kasbah and its souks and the nearby Sultan palace.
The gate, massive as though it may appear at first inception, is not unusual in its size for an Almohad monument. It is striking for its harmony and the sheer simplicity and beauty of its decoration. The basic feature is the arch, composed of three different designs: the basic horseshoe, a check-and-shoulder design and finally a band of geometric ornamentation.
After passing through the grand door, ,Bab Oudaia, one will immediately reach an striking quarter, the Kasbah des Oudaias. The Kasbah is the original citadel of the Almohad, Merinid and subsequent Andalusian towns in Rabat. Here, you can see the Kasbah Mosque – the oldest mosque in the city, built around 1050 and subsequently rebuilt in the 18th century.
The Kasbah Oudaia stands out within a beautiful and quiet residential area surrounded by white and blue painted houses decorated with flowers. Kasbah Oudaia has become a haven for artists, attracted by the beauty of the site as much as by its soothing tranquility.
South of Bab Ouadaia, is the Palace Museum and Andalusian Gardens. The Palace was built in the seventeenth-century by Moulay Ismail, the first Almohad sultan to unify the country. Today, it showcases exhibits of Moroccan art and culture. A vast central patio gives access to private quarters and reception rooms containing the exhibits. There is a hall containing oriental rugs made in Rabat, an exhibition hall for musical instruments and a salon reserved for customs and rituals.
The old palace grounds are occupied by the beautiful Andalusian Gardens. Although true to Andalusian traditions, with its flowering annuals and beds of shrubs, the gardens were actually constructed by the French in the twentieth-century. The gardens are a shady retreat, with a profusion of daturas, oleanders, orange, lemon and banana trees.
When visiting Kasbah Ouadia, make sure to have tea and pastries at Café Maure set on the grounds of the Kasbah Oudaia with a majestic view of the river.
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