Meknes, also called Maknas, is a town in Morocco that takes its name from the Berber tribe that founded it with the name of Amknas. It is in the province of Meknès. Meknes is 140 km east of Rabat and […]
Meknes, also called Maknas, is a town in Morocco that takes its name from the Berber tribe that founded it with the name of Amknas. It is in the province of Meknès. Meknes is 140 km east of Rabat and 59 km west of Fez. This is a medina of the four imperial cities of Morocco. Strategically located in the center-north of the country, making it an ideal base for visiting this part of Morocco.
The strange sultan Moulay Ismail, the second ruler of the Alaoui dynasty, had a special connection to this place.. He named it capital during his 55-year term. This city was not known but became a monumental and imperial city like Marrakech and Rabat.
Meknes, called the ‘Moroccan Versailles’, is an imperial city with many historical monuments and natural sites, has more than forty km of imposing defensive walls and many mosques. It is also known as the “City of a Hundred Minarets” for this reason. It is also the closest to the Roman ruins of Volubilis (Ualili). Prices in Meknes are among the most reasonable in Morocco and people are much kinder than in other cities in the country.
It is an imperial city that is perfectly connected by train and motorway, being an interesting stop on the way to Fez from Tangier. For those who can only travel in the afternoon it is better to spend the night in Meknes and the next day make an excursion to Fez.
Visitors can take taxis to go to this city. The best way to go in Meknes is by taxi. Moving is not a difficulty for any of the visitors who come here. In contrast to the city near Fez, travelers can explore most of the tourist attractions here. There are many things to do in Meknes, and visitors will always find something to keep them busy.
Visitors have much more to see in Meknes besides walking on walls, getting lost in the medina and dining in zoos. These include the mausoleum of Mulay Ismail, the gates of Bab El Mansur, Bab Berdain, and Bab El-Jemis, the towers of Adgal, the Medersa Bou Inania, the magnificent gardens of the Sultan, and the granaries (Heri es-Suani), the huge churches and the Moroccan Art Museum in Dar Jamai.
In the vicinity of Meknes (27 km) is Moulay Idriss. This city is known as one of the busiest cities containing mausoleums. Every year, in the months of August and September, thousands of faithful make a pilgrimage to Moulay Idriss, also attracting interested travelers and leading to a lively event with lots of traditional color.
27 km or half an hour drive from Meknes are the ruins of the Roman city of Volubilis (OUALILI), residence of Mauritanian prosecutors Tingitana, since the first century AD.
Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail: built by Ahmed Eddahbi, it is one of the three Moroccan shrines along with the tomb of the Mohamed V University of Rabat and is the place of final rest of one of the most famous sultans of country and the Bou Inania Medersa in Fez, which can be visited by non-Muslims..
As a curiosity, Moulay Ismail had about 888 children conceived by his more than 550 wives and more than 4000 concubines and despite this he tried several times to marry the daughter of Louis XIV, Anne Marie of Bourbon, thanks to the good relations between the two leaders. Access to the interior of the mausoleum for persons who do not process the Muslim religion is limited, as you can access everything except the interior of the room where the remains of the sultan are located.
To enter the mausoleum you must respect the rules of courtesy and wear a moderate costume for Muslims.
It is accessed through a series of elegant and sober courtyards, with rooms of minimalist decoration based on zellij tiles and plasterwork. The core of the sanctuary, however, is a richly decorated room with many beautiful Islamic motifs and a fountain located in the center.
Here, Moulay Ismail was buried with two of his more than eight hundred children, one of his five spouses and one of his many wives. Because of his conviction that the tomb of Moulay Ismail has healing properties, many Moroccans go to see it.
The Great Mosque: it was founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids probably. It stands out for having 11 doors and 143 arches, in addition to its beautiful sculpted ceilings.
Nejjarine Mosque: erected in the 10th century. It is located in the center of the medina of Meknes.
Mosque “Jamai Roua”: built in 1791 by “Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah”.
Mausoleum of Sheikh Kamel: built by “Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah”, which houses the tomb of El Hadi Benaissa, founder of the brotherhood “Aissaúas”
One place that reflects the tastes of the upper class of Morocco is the Dar Jamai Museum. At the end of the 19th century, it was transformed into a museum of ethnic and maroon art.
Medersa Bouanania: Theological Institute founded by Sultan Abu Hassan Marini (1331-1351). It has a terrace and a floor with 26 rooms. It has several excellent examples of wooden ceilings and zelliges mosaics.
This Spanish-Moorish masterpiece is built according to the plans of the Koran Classical School. It has a central courtyard and is surrounded by a gallery, an intercession room and a first floor consisting of student accommodation.
Medersa Filalia: historical building in educational and religious activities. Built in 1789 by Moulay Ismail
Museum of Ceramics of the Rif
Historical monuments to see in Meknes
Al Koubat Khayatine (Ambassador’s Hall): pavilion in which Sultan Mulay Ismail received foreign ambassadors and emissaries
Bab Lakhmis: large ornate door from the 17th century
The Karaviin Mosque is the second largest mosque in Morocco after the new Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. The Karouim Mosque is probably the holiest place in Fez and Morocco.
It is a pity that non-Muslims cannot appreciate the beauty of the interior, but this is regulated by Islam precisely because of its holiness. Its minaret was built in 957 and is the oldest Islamic monument in Fez.
The Kairaouine also dictates the calendar of all Islamic festivals in the country. It is hidden in the center of the medina, it is huge, but its size is barely visible because it is among hundreds of shops and houses. About 20,500 people can pray here every day, but as we said before, you cannot enter unless you are a Muslim. the libraries of the city of Fes are the most important and oldest in the world.
Dar El Beida: (The White House) A 19th-century Alawite palace built by Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah. Today houses the Royal Military Academy of the city of Meknes
Bab Berdaine: large entrance built by Sultan Moulay Ismail in the 17th century.
The Fandouk Hanna: cultural complex. Property of the endowments
Ksar El Mansour: public palace and barn of Mequnes
The Haras: Founded in 1914 as an institution, it has military roots. In 1947 it became a horse breeding facility.
Barn and stables: gigantic architectural complex built by Moulay Ismail. Reserved for food storage
Bassin Agdal: large water storage pond with 319 m long and 151 m wide. Its depth exceeds 2 m. It was built by the Sultan Moulay Ismael to irrigate the gardens of the medina Meknes.
Hebs Qara (Cara Prison): the prison (underground silo) is named after Cara, an architect and Portuguese prisoner
Dar El Makhzen Palace: located in the urban part of El Mechouar Stinia. It is surrounded by a 1.5 km corridor, formed by two impressive walls. It was the official palace of Sultan Moulay Ismail
Bab Mansour Laalj: it is considered one of the most beautiful doors of all the world that contains manifest architecture . The gate was completed in 1732 by Mulay Abdallah, son of Mulay Ismail, the most influential sultan in the history of Morocco.
The proportions of this door are majestic. This gate served as a link between Lalla Auda Square in the Dar el Kbir fortress and El Hedim Square in Meknes. represents the power of this imperial city. The largest gate in Morocco, if not all of North Africa, is Bab Mansour.. Bab el Mansour was completely renovated in the nineties, the restoration work served to improve the distinctive dark green colour of the imperial city of Meknes
Lahboul Garden: It is located in the urban part of Medina Al-Ismailia. It contains an outdoor theatre and an impressive zoo.
Real Golf: inside the walls of Moulay Ismail. It consists of 9 holes. always the sport is practiced with artificial light
Hédime Square: means “Square of the ruins”. Picturesque large square in front of Bab Mansour, meeting point of the medina and the imperial city of Meknes, this wide esplanade is essential to access the souks. is a Pekingese twin from Jemaa el Fna Square in Marrakech. It is a rectangular square surrounded by buildings more homogeneous than those of its elder sister in Marrakech. Around the square there are plenty of restaurants with terraces.
It is a magnificent place to enjoy a Moroccan tea while contemplating the life of the square. In it we find diversity of people, from vendors, acrobats, storytellers, tourists… who gather around this square at sunset. The food is near Lahdim Square.
There are dozens of restaurants and bars on Antsirabi Street offering harira, tagine, couscous and, of course, roast chicken. Some of the restaurants on Rue de Ghana, which is next to Rue Antsirabi, are highly appreciated by tourists and offer meals for less than 30 dhs.
Le Pub, Avenida Allal Ben Abdellah. Open every day until midnight. Excellent, although a little experimental, is French cuisine. The pizza is delicious and is served with alcohol.. 60 dh-140 dh.
Athenos, Avenida Mohamed V. Open for lunch. Delicious Moroccan dishes such as couscous and tajines and their types. 30 dh-70 dh.
Mo Di Niro, Rue Antsirabé. Open daily until midnight. this restaurant offers American style food: pasta hamburgers and pizzas dishes. 20-100 dh. 20-100 dh.
La Fine Bouche, Avenida Allal Ben Abdellah. Open daily until 22.00. They serve delicious chawarmas and other specialties. 20-50 dh.
Ibis Inn. This hotel chain has a respectable menu of French food, but what makes it so attractive is that they serve drinks. 50-150 dh
Label’ Gallery. Several restaurants, some open after midnight. It is the closest to a shopping center, it is the only place to find international cuisine, such as Mexican, American, Thai and Lebanese. Prices vary a lot
Lafkih : the most popular restaurant, offers a local menu of Ma’aqouda and harira in the afternoon.
In the medina of Meknes
The Colombe Colliers, 67 Driba Road. Follow behind Lalla Aouda Square near the old town. It is open daily for business. Delicious Moroccan dishes, including the pill. Prices vary, however, most dishes cost more than 100 DH.
The market on the main square of the medina in the neighborhood of Bab El-Mansur has good fresh produce and a wide variety of different types of fruits, nuts and sweets.
Al-Rachid, his brother on the throne, died because he could not recover from the serious injuries he suffered after falling off his horse. Ismail encountered a nation that had been damaged by internal wars. As soon as he reached the sultanate, Ismail decided to move the capital from Fez to Meknes.
He ordered to surround the city with its famous walls and build a gigantic palace, built by an army of more than 25,000 slaves, obtained mainly in pirate assaults against European ships.
He managed to reunify most of the tribes and expelled foreigners who settled on the coast. He used the Black Guard, a fearsome army of over 100,000 Sudanese slaves.
Ismail is remembered as one of the bloodiest sultans in history, he was more feared than loved… From Meknes, Sultan Ismail fought valiantly to fortify the borders of the fledgling state of Morocco against the Ottoman invasion of Algeria.. Also against European interference, taking the cities of Tangier from the English, and Larache and Mamoura from the Spanish.
For some strange reason, Meknes seems to have more bars than people, even if only a few are suitable for tourists. Note: Prices listed on the website may differ from those shown.
Meknassa ez-Zeitoun (Meknasa of the Olives) is a foundation of the 9th century, although it did not acquire its true character until 1069, when the Almoravids built a bastion and a city.
After experiencing several assaults, conquests, abandonments and reconstructions, Meknes reached its pinnacle under Mulay Ismail. This Arab sultan, who lived during the reign of King Louis XIV of France, decorated Meknes with gigantic tombs, gardens, mosques, city blocks and his first palace, Dar Kebira. The final product is one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in Morocco.
The most tragic chapter in the history of the city is that directed by the Alawite sultan Moulay Ismail. If their important monuments and more than 41 km of defensive walls spoke, they would tell us stories of beheadings, concubines and servitude. They spoke of immense armies of Christian slaves. They spoke, in short, of the Alawite Ismail Ibn Sharif, ‘the warrior king’.
Le Pub, Allal Ben Abdellah Avenue. Open daily until mid-afternoon. Two floors make up this lively bar. Beer bottles cost 45-100 DH, while cocktails cost 60 DH. Try the local wines: Guerrouane and Amazir are very tasty; a Shisha (water pipe containing tobacco) costs 100 dh.
Hotel Zaki, open late . one of the outdoor drinking hotels in the city of Meknes.
Although not exactly a retail mecca, this city is certainly less expensive than Fez. The medina is full of bilghas, the common type of Moroccan footwear, as well as traditional Moroccan clothing and carpets.
In addition, it is well known for its iron and products manufactured by the best artisans of the region. There are several tourist shops behind Hedim, near Dar Jamai.
Make sure you are accepting a good price, do not accept the trader’s first offer. The easiest way to negotiate, especially without knowledge of French or Arabic, is to offer exactly half the price given (or 76% of expensive or large-scale items).
If you can’t get a deal, feint to leave: as a rule, the price will drop significantly. Also, try not to be too frugal.
The Roman ruins of Volubilis (Oualili in Berber): is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is within walking distance of the city.
Moulay Idriss Zerhoun: it is located 15 km from Meknes and right next to Volubilis. The small town is located on a hill, was founded by Moulay Idriss I and is sacred place of Muslims. A mussem is celebrated here every year
Most budget accommodation is located along Rue Rouamzine, just before the medina. In Meknes there are different types of hotels, the most attractive for their decoration, reminiscent of the most refined imperial period, are riads.
A residence or former palace surrounded by a garden is called a riad.. At the following link you can search and book your accommodation at the best price.
The following is recommended:
Riad Yacout: is a charming riad, located just 3 minutes from Hédime Square and the Bab Mansour. It has a nice decoration and offers excellent treatment by the staff. It is a very good choice of accommodation for its unbeatable location, availability of public parking a few meters and for its quality-price. Fully recommendedShare this tour