Driving north along the Atlantic, we head for Rabat, the capital of the kingdom of Morocco. Rabat is a beautiful clean city and all foreign embassies are located here, and we drive past many of them along wide tree-lined avenues and green spaces.
We meet our historical guide at the huge ancient gate leading into an evocative place of excavated ruins called the Chellah. As early as 8 BC, this was a trading post between the locals and the Phoenicians, until the Romans moved in and built their city here in the 1st century. At this time Morocco was called Mauritania, the origin of the name “Moors.”
In 1755 a huge earthquake struck in Portugal, creating a tsunami that wiped out much of Rabat, its huge defensive wall, and the Chellah. Not until the 1920’s did archaeologists discover the Roman ruins buried here and begin excavation. We wander the grounds of this magical place of arches, fallen columns, beautiful wild gardens, and huge white storks flying overhead who’ve build massive messy nests of sticks atop the walls and even on the old minaret.