Sidi Kacem Ennadouri, Rabat’s Mysterious Tombs

Nestled on top of Jbel Sidi Boumnina, the white marabouts

photography by: Omri Westmark

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They are found all over Morocco, from the faraway countryside to the heart of historic cities, marabouts are Islamic shrines, which according to local traditions, serve as the eternal home for prominent righteous figures. Rabat, like many cities across the country, is home to a couple of marabouts, yet none of which is as scenic, mysterious and secluded as Sidi Kacem Ennadouri.

Dotting Morocco’s urban areas and rural landscape alike, Marabouts are sacred tombs where according to local lore, Islamic saints, renowned for their supernatural powers, virtues or religious reverence, are buried. Most of those shrines feature a domed structure, whose whitewashed walls are devoid of windows. It is often the case when the marabouts become pilgrimage sites for people who seek a divine inspiration or relief from their otherwise incurable ailments.


As Islam disapproves of any worship of earthlings, the guardians of those sanctuaries insist that the righteous saints are merely mediators, providing a portal between believers and God. In practice, many marabouts are too old or steeped in mystery that it is almost impossible to determine who is actually buried here.


Perching atop a verdant hill on the outskirts of El Youssoufia neighborhood in Rabat, Sidi Kacem Ennadouri or Sidi Boumnina (سيدي بومنينة) is an old mysterious mausoleum, consisting of several white domed qubba tombs. While a plaque on one of the buildings states that the necropolis belongs to Sidi Ala al Idriss and his children, the real identity of those who are buried here is anyone’s guess.


The marabout’s exceedingly vague past is no concern for the dozens of pilgrims who frequent the place, claiming that it gave rise to miracles as well as paranormal activities. Whether this smattering of graves lives up to its magical reputation is up for you to decide, one thing is clear though, its scenic location is bestowed with spectacular vistas of Rabat, the surrounding countryside and most notably, the nearby ancient site of Chellah, a former Roman colony that was used as a cemetery by the Marinid Sultanate in the mid-14th century.


Since the site is separated by a major highway from the rest of the city, to get here, one must first go through a narrow path that branches off from Chellah. As you proceed towards the road, an underground passage provides an access to the other side, from where a steep climb will take you to the sacred hilltop. On your way to the marabout, you can stop at a close-by hillside as it overlooks Chellah and a couple of tree canopies, where a group of storks often charmingly nest.