While planning our road trip in Morocco, my colleague Katrina and I decided to talk to a Moroccan lady working with us in order to find out which off the beaten path places in her country might be missing from the bestselling-travel guides.
One of the suggestions she gave us was Kasbah Des Oudayas (sometimes spelt Udayas or Oudaia) which was not in our Moroccan road trip plan, but once we saw the photos online we didn’t want to leave it off of our itinerary.
We were planning to drive ourselves through Morocco, so we decided to stop in Kasbah Des Oudayason our way from Fes to Rabat.
What is a Kasbah in Morocco?
In Morocco, the Arabic word kasbah frequently refers to multiple buildings in a keep- a citadel behind a defensive wall. A kasbah was a place for the local leader to live and defend the city when it was under attack. A kasbah has high walls, usually without windows. Sometimes they were built on hilltops so that they could be more easily defended, while others were placed near the entrance to harbours.
Having a Kasbah was a sign that some wealthy families lived in the city.
From Fes to Kasbah of the Udayas by car
The distance between Fes and Kasbah Des Oudayas is 200 km, about two and a half hours by car. Since the road is in pretty good condition, driving is quite easy once you leave the chaos of the big city of Fes. Once we reached Kasbah Des Oudaias we parked our car at the huge parking lot down by the beach and walked towards the hamlet.
Kasbah of the Udayas
Kasbah Des Oudaias is a Kasbah in Rabat. It is located adjacent to the Medina of Rabat. The most dramatic entry to the Kasbah is through the enormous Almohad gate of Bab Oudaia, built in 1195.
Every single wall in this town is painted in blue and white.
There are several beliefs as to why this UNESCO World Heritage site’s walls are painted this way: to protect their homes from evil and spirits, to follow the Jewish customs introduced in the 1930s, to keep the mosquitos away, to represent the colour of the water, to take up an important Islamic concept according to which happiness and optimism are represented by the colour blue, or simply to give the town a different look. Anyway, whatever the original reason is, there is now a good reason to continue to paint it that way: tourism. In fact you can have some beautiful photos taken here that you will be glad to add to your travel photo album once back home.
At the entrance, we were approached by many local guides hassling to give us a tour. Thiswas the only downside of our visit to Kasbah Des Oudaias. With a firm “no,” they finally let us go.
Along with the locals, some foreigners also have their holiday home there. They must be very rich because we heard that the house prices sky rocket in Kasbah.
The main street, Rue Jamaa, runs straight through the Kasbah to a platform with a fantastic view point over the river and the ocean.
The town was well organized for tourists; it hosts souvenir shops, book shops, restaurants, and coffee shops for having a great mint tea and benches along the streets for sitting and relaxing. Kasbah definitively is a must while driving close to Rabat!!! This is a town for many cats, too.
What I liked most about Kasbah Des Oudaias
Since many locals have their residences in Kasbah Des Oudayas, while walking down the streets we could see the daily life going on and that was really fascinating.
The busiest part of Kasbah des Oudaia is the beach side, where you can sit and watch the locals for hours. People from Morocco itself come to Kasbah des Oudaia because of its stunning shoreline and its picturesque views. It is interesting to see how every country has its own “beach culture.” I love to see it and I respect it.
Tip for Kasbah des Oudaia
You only need a couple of hours to wander around the alleyways and look at the Andalusian gardens but remember that the main platform with scenic views closes at six pm.