Chellah, one of the most scenic ruins in Morocco, is well worth the trip if you are traveling to Rabat. It also makes a great side trip if you are in Meknes or Casablanca. The walled city has existed since pre-Roman and pre-Islamic times, but was abandoned in 1154 AD. It is now home to nothing more than a curiously large population of storks, cats, and various other animals. So sit back and discover the ancient history behind Chellah. Even if you aren’t a history buff, it’s a place you’re sure to enjoy.
It’s still an archaeological site
As soon as you enter through the gates (it costs only 10 dirhams, by the way), you’ll quickly notice that people are still doing work on the grounds and excavating new finds.
The walls are still intact
Most of the walls are still intact, but an earthquake in the 1600s caused many of them to crumble. Signs in French and Arabic explain and give context to the ruins.
There is a mosque and a minaret
After the Romans abandoned the site, a minaret was constructed along with a mosque. Now the only occupants are a few storks.
It’s a grave site
Chellah is also a graveyard, and you’ll find headstones in Arabic throughout the grounds.
Several buildings were added post-Roman times which reflect the architectural style of the rest of Rabat.
Plenty of cats
Like other places in Morocco, Chellah has become a home for cute stray cats that can be seen wandering around the grounds.
A Roman bath
Chellah has an intact Roman bath which tourists thrown coins into, hoping their wishes will be granted.
While parts of the inner city have crumbled, the intact outer walls still line the boundaries of Chellah.
Chellah was once a thriving city before being abandoned.
Contrasting styles of architecture
Due to the age of the site, you’ll find plenty of different types of architecture from various centuries.
If you visit Chellah, one of the things you’re sure to remember are the storks that have colonized the area. They stand guard over the ancient ruins from high points throughout the site.
Storks part II
They’ve also created massive multi-level nests that are reminiscent of a Super Mario Bros video game. Seriously, the storks here are something straight out of a nature documentary.
It’s pretty wild
Hundreds of years of neglect has led to native trees growing in and around the walls. The storks certainly don’t seem to mind.
There is very little left of the ancient statues that were once found throughout Chellah, but the crumbled bases are evidence of an artistic past.
If you look around, you’ll see ancient Latin text written on monuments that were constructed almost two millenia ago.