Mausoleum of Mohammed V

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Things to do


Date of travel

March, 2019

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Just as the ship burial at Sutton Hoo seems to offer the dead king a prospect of his former domain, the very different tomb of Mohammed V commands a view over the slopes of his capital, Rabat, towards the Atlantic. Thereafter comparison fails: the National Trust estate in Suffolk is maintained as grass and woodland, whereas the Moroccan site is cultivated parkland below the monumental ruins of the Almohad Hasan mosque.

The monument itself is anything but ruined. It is elegant in a style that recalls Granada or the pavilion in the Red Fort at Agra, India, where the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan was imprisoned during the final years of his life. Once again comparison falters, because the mausoleum is a late twentieth century building. On the day we visited it was even being prepared as background to an official ceremony, with sound systems in construction and rows of gold painted chairs for dignitaries.

Further contrast appears in the red stone of the ruined mosque, the base of its minaret like a huge defensive tower dominating the seaward vista, and the creamy white tomb with filigree work in its arches. It seems characteristic of the conservative attitude of any religious monument to evoke historical images. In Morocco there does not seem to be any anomaly in this. The modern and the historical are of a kind. Much as visitors from another culture see our churches and cathedrals of all ages we view Islamic buildings. The numerous coach parties, whether Moroccan or foreign seemed to share the same attitude.

Ease of access is very much a feature. There is good parking nearby and the terrace on which the mausoleum is built is perfectly flat.

Although we had only a short time for the visit there was enough of Rabat seen during our journey to suggest the city has much more to offer. As befits a modern capital its roads are excellent; it also offers interesting comparisons in its modern elements and the traditional fishing port visible below the city.


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