Tag Archives: storks in Sala Morocco

Story of Ozymandias (Rabat, Morocco)

Rabat is the capital of Morocco and home to Morocco’s Royal Palace. The large estate can be described as a walled city that not only houses one of the King’s Palace’s but also the minions who work there. Though we were excited to visit the grounds, we were more than disappointed with the reception we received. Neither buses nor taxis were allowed within a reasonable distance of the Palace; and thus, everyone had to walk approximately three to four blocks to photograph the palace. Actually we didn’t mind the walk; however, when we arrived, we didn’t appreciate the attitude of the many armed guards that kept us more than several hundred feet from the entry archway by blowing their whistles and using hostile gestures indicating we must not go further.

Rabat2Archway to  royal palace

 OK so let’s photograph another building. How about the King’s personal royal mosque. However, the moment we stepped on a grass like carpet that covered the cement outside of this building, the whistles began blowing again. Our advice is to forget visiting the King’s Palace if you go to Rabat. (We later learned that people are treated this way at all seven of the King’s Palaces in Morocco!) Better to spend your time at the ruins of Sala.

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In contrast, the Roman ruins of the town of Sala were delightful! The mosque, cemetery, and walls are largely ruins (some merely large square stone blocks stacked on top of each other).   Some of the towers are, however, in relatively good shape and are well used by the storks as building blocks for their large nests. We were not the only ones enjoying Sala that day. Students have a half-day of school on Fridays, and several teachers brought their primary school students to visit the area. They ran about having a great time, getting lots of exercise, but learning little history. The children and their teachers were all anxious to have their pictures taken; so much of our time was spent photographing them rather than the ruins. But it certainly was an experience we will remember! 

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Rabat23Mausoleum and fortified graveyard 

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 Another interesting site was the Hassan Tower, a reminder of a great mosque that was never completed. Begun in 1195, both the mosque and the tower were intended to be the largest minaret (tower from which people would be called to prayer) and mosque in the world. Instead of stairs, the tower was intended to be ascended by ramps that would have allowed the muezzin (a man who calls Muslims to prayer) to ride a horse to the top of the tower to issue the call to prayer. The tower reached 140 feet (about ½ of its intended 260 feet), however, neither it nor the mosque were ever completed because after four years of construction, the sultan died and construction was halted. What is left are the tower plus the beginnings of several walls and 200 columns. Leaders in olden times certainly had grandiose ideas!!! . . . but at what cost were they to the people? 

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Barbara Wood Cook at Hassan Tower

 So many times during this trip we have seen monument after monument, ruin after ruin . . . On so many levels I have been reminded of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, “Ozymandias.” A traveler describes what he saw upon his visit to a spot where ancient civilizations once existed: a broken statue with the face of a stern and powerful man. On the pedestal, near the statue’s face, the traveler reads an inscription:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.