Robin's Adventures

Morocco, Spain, & Portugal
A Picturesque Adventure

Granaries and Royal Stables

Sultan Moulay Ismail built a large beautiful palace in Meknes. In addition, he constructed Royal Stables large enough to house 12,000 royal horses. Each horse had its own groom and a slave to meet all of its needs.

Next to the stables was an enormous granary which held enough grain to feed all of the horses for 20 years. In order to keep the grain from rotting, the walls were thick and a hanging garden was built on the granary roof.

The great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 destroyed the royal palace, collapsed the roof of the stables, and caused damage to the granaries. The ruins still provide a glimpse of the large scale and importance of these buildings.

Meknes City Walls

Old fortifications and city walls that were built during the time of Sultan Moulay Ismail still surround much of the city of Meknes today. There are over 25 miles of city walls still standing as well as about 20 city gates.

The biggest gate, Bab Mansour, which was built in the 1730s as a homage to the sultan, has 52-foot-tall carved wooden doors, colorful zellige tiles, and marble columns. When it was built, the door never actually lead anywhere, but rather was simply built as a means of impressing visitors.


Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and the royal family has its residence in the city. It has a well-fortified old town with tall city walls designed to provide protection for the city's strategic location where the Atlantic Ocean meets the mouth of the Bou Regreg River.

As we entered the old town, we met a colorful man who had an interesting way to display the brass wares he had for sale.

Kasbah of the Udayas

Kasbah of the Udayas is a fortified old town overlooking both the Atlantic Ocean and the Bou Regreg River. It has a unique residential area with narrow cobblestone streets and houses are all painted blue and white.

River Bou Regreg

The Bou Regreg runs through a part of the city and provides some sandy beaches along the shore. We saw a local in waders searching for shellfish in the river and seagulls hanging out on the shore. There also seemed to be an abundance of feral cats hanging out in Rabat.

Mausoleum of Mohammed V

The Mausoleum of Mohammed V, located in the Yacoub al-Mansour Square, is the final resting place of King Mohammed V and his two sons. The building is always guarded by members of the royal guard, two of whom are on horseback.

The building, which is a beautifully carved white marble structure with a green tile roof, has elaborately decorated interior walls, marble floors, and a spectacular gilded dome. There is a specially designed seat within the tomb for Koran reciters where eight different readers take turns reciting verses from the Koran 24 hours a day.

Also in Yacoub al-Mansour Square

In addition to the Mausoleum, Yacoub al-Mansour Square also contains the Hassan Tower and the remains of a very large mosque. Sultan Yacoub al-Mansour began construction, in 1195, of what was planned to be the world's tallest minaret and the world's largest mosque.

The minaret, which was designed to be 260 feet tall with a ramp inside instead of stairs so the mizzen could ride a horse to the top in order to call for prayers, is currently only 145 feet tall. Building on the project came to a halt in 1199 with the death of the sultan and the site was damaged in the Lisbon quake of 1755. The incomplete minaret is still standing, but all that remains of the mosque are about 200 columns and a small section of one wall.

Near the square is the Moroccan Parliament building.

Villa Mandarine Hotel

While in Rabat, we stayed at the Villa Mandarine Hotel.

Tagines and Other Moroccan Dining Experiences

Tagines are a popular Moroccan cuisine and there are many variations. The tagine is actually a clay cooking pot with a cone shaped lid. Various types of meat and vegetables are slow cooked in the tagine, often over couscous and covered in some sort of sauce.

Another common Moroccan dish, called harira, is a tomato-based soup with lots of lentils and chickpeas. Beef or lamb are often added to the harira as well as many different spices. Bissara is another common soup that is made with fava beans.

Bastilla is a savory pie that is usually made with pigeon, but chicken can be used instead. The poultry is cooked with saffron, cinnamon, ginger, and pepper, and then wrapped in a crispy pastry shell and covered with almond slivers.

Olives with various seasonings and sauces are a staple at every meal, as is khobz, which is a type of flatbread.

Side dishes include a variety of salads, such as zalouk. Zalouk is a spread made with eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and spices.

Seafood is also a favorite food in Morocco. Steve tried some shrimp that was covered in a sauce and grilled. It came with all of its body parts still intact.

Desserts were various Moroccan cookies made with dates, sesame, almonds, and honey as common ingredients. Fresh dates or figs covered in sesame seeds were also common after meal treats.

One delicacy that we saw, but chose not to try was steamed sheep head. You can purchase either a half or a whole head and it generally comes steamed with cumin, chili, and salt.


Marrakech, which is the fourth largest city in Morocco, has an old town or medina surrounded by areas that are more modern. The Koutoubia Mosque, which is the largest mosque in the city, is a major landmark that is located near the main square in the medina. The minaret, which is 253 feet tall, can be seen from great distances.