Meknes is a haven of history and culture.

Meknes, a haven of history and culture

Meknes, a treasure trove of culture and history.

Meknes, also known as Meknassi, is a city in Morocco that gets its name from the Meknassi Berber tribe that built it. It serves as the Meknès-Tafilalet region’s administrative center. This city is situated 60 kilometers west of Fes and 138 km east of Rabat. It is one of Morocco’s four imperial cities. It is ideally situated in the center-north of the nation, making it a great starting point for exploring this region of Morocco.

Meknes Bab el mansour

The strange sultan Moulay Ismail, the second ruler of the Alaoui dynasty, has a special connection to this city. He designated it as the nation’s capital for the duration of his 55-year rule. Like Rabat or Marrakech, this city literally grew from nothing to become a monumental city. Meknes, known as the “Moroccan Versailles,” is an imperial city with many historical landmarks and natural attractions. It also boasts numerous mosques and more than 40 km of massive defensive walls. Because of this, it is often referred to as the “City of a Hundred Minarets.” Additionally, it is the nearest to the Volubilis Roman Ruins (Oualili). Meknes has some of Morocco’s most affordable prices and a friendlier population than other Moroccan cities.

Visitors can take a bus to this city. Taxis are the best mode of transportation in Meknes. None of the guests who come here have any trouble getting about. Unlike the nearby city of Fes, the majority of the tourist attractions are accessible to visitors here. Visitors will always find something to keep them busy in Meknes because there are so many things to do there.

Meknes sights

Travelers can also visit the Mausoleum of Mulay Ismail, the Bab El Mansur, Bab Berdain, and Bab El-Jemis gates, the Adgal Pond, the Medersa Bou Inania, the magnificent Sultans’ Gardens, the granaries (Heri es-Suani), the enormous stables, and the Museum of Moroccan Art in Dar Jamai in addition to exploring the ramparts, getting lost in the medina, and haggling in the souks.

Standing close to Meknes (26 km), Moulay Idriss. The busiest moussem is located in this city. Every year, thousands of pilgrims flock to Moulay Idriss during the months of August and September. This attracts curious tourists and creates a highly lively festival that is rich in tradition.

The ruins of the Roman city of Volubilis, which served as the residence of the procurators of Mauritania Tingitana during the first century AD, are located 27 kilometers from Meknes.

Visit religious sites in Meknes

Built by Ahmed Eddahbi, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail is situated in the Medina on the side farthest from Hedim Square. It is one of three Moroccan shrines that can be visited by non-Muslims, along with the tomb of University Mohamed V in Rabat and the Medersa Bou Inania in Fes. It is the final resting place of one of Morocco’s most well-known sultans. Curiously, Moulay Ismail attempted to wed Anne-Marie de Bourbon, the daughter of Louis XIV, multiple times due to the close connections between the two rulers, despite having approximately 888 children born to his more than 550 wives and more than 4000 concubines.

Because you can enter everything but the room that contains the sultan’s remains, entry to the mausoleum’s interior is restricted for those who do not practice Islam. You must adhere to the etiquette requirements and dress modestly for Muslims in order to enter the mausoleum. It has rooms with a basic design based on zellij tiles and plasterwork and is reached through a succession of elegant and understated courtyards. The sanctuary’s central chamber, however, is a lavishly adorned space with a fountain in the middle and several lovely Islamic elements throughout. Here, Moulay Ismail was interred with two of his more than eight hundred children, one of his five spouses, and one of his many wives. Due to the widespread notion that Moulay Ismail’s tomb can heal, many Moroccans go there.

◾Tenth-century construction of the Nejjarine Mosque. It is situated in the heart of Meknes’s Medina.

◾The Almoravids are thought to have founded the Great Mosque in the eleventh century. It is distinguished by its 143 arches, 11 doorways, and exquisitely sculpted roofs.

◾Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah constructed the Jamai Roua Mosque in 1790.

◾The Sheikh Kamel Mausoleum, designed by Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, is home to El Hadi Benaissa’s tomb, the fraternity known as the “Aissaas.”

Visit Meknes's medersas and museums.

◾The Dar Jamai Museum is a location that showcases the affluence of Moroccan society. It was transformed into a Moroccan and ethnographic arts museum around the end of the 19th century.

◾Sultan Abu Hassan Marini established the Institute of Theology known as Medersa Bouanania (1331-1351). It comprises a storey with 26 rooms and a patio. It contains some excellent zelliges mosaic and wood carving examples. This magnificent example of Hispano-Moorish architecture was constructed in accordance with the blueprints for the classical school of the Koran. It features a central courtyard that is encircled by a gallery, a prayer room, and a second story made up of student rooms.

◾Historical structure used for religious and educational purposes is the Medersa Filalia. Built by Moulay Ismail in 1789

◾Museum of Rif Ceramics

Historical monuments to see in Meknes

◾Sultan Mulay Ismail welcomed ambassadors and messengers from other countries in the pavilion known as Al Koubat Khayatine (Ambassador’s Room).

◾Large ornate gate from the seventeenth century: Bab Lakhmis

◾Moulay Ismail constructed the imposing Bab Berdaine gate in the XVIIth century.

◾Dar El Beida: 19th century Alawite palace built by Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah. Today it houses the Royal Military Academy of Meknes.

◾El Fandouk Hanna: cultural complex. Property of the endowments

◾Ksar Mansour: palace and granary in the public domain

◾Las Haras: created in 1914 as an institution, it dates back to the military. In 1947 it became a center for horse breeding.

◾Barn and stables: gigantic architectural complex built by Moulay Ismail. It is reserved for food storage

◾Bassin Agdal is a 319 m long by 149 m broad huge water storage pond. It is deeper than 2 meters. Moulay Ismael constructed it to irrigate Meknes’ gardens.

◾The prison (subway silo) is called Cara Prison after Cara, a Portuguese architect who was a prisoner at the time.

The most well-known historical sites in Meknes

◾The palace of Dar El Makhzen: located in the urban area of El Mechouar Stinia. It is surrounded by a corridor of 2 km, formed by two impressive walls. It was the official palace of Moulay Ismail.

◾One of the most gorgeous gates in the entire world is Bab Mansour. Mulay Abdallah, the son of Mulay Ismail, the most important monarch in Moroccan history, finished building the gate in 1732. This gate’s dimensions are impressive. This gate connected the square Lalla Auda in the castle Dar el Kbir with the square El Hedim in the medina of Meknes. It stands for the city’s imperial strength. The largest gate in both Morocco and all of North Africa is Bab Mansour. In the 1990s, Bab el Mansour underwent a comprehensive renovation, which enhanced the rich green hue that is a hallmark of the imperial city of Meknes.

◾Lahboul Garden: located in the urban area of Medina Al-Ismailia. Contains a zoo and an open-air theater.

◾Real Golf: it is located within the walls of Moulay Ismail. It consists of 9 holes. The sport is practiced with artificial light

◾Place de l’El Hédime translates as “Ruin Square.” The broad esplanade in front of Bab Mansour, the meeting place of the imperial city of Meknes and the picturesque square, is necessary for entry to the souks. It somehow reminds us of Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fna square. The surrounding architecture is more uniform than that of its larger sister in Marrakech, and the square is rectangular. There are numerous restaurant patios all around this square. It’s a wonderful location for sipping Moroccan tea and taking in the square’s activity. Vendors, acrobats, storytellers, tourists, and other individuals of many backgrounds congregate in this square at dusk. A food souk encircles the square’s southern side.

Restaurants in Meknes

The New City:The main thoroughfare on Rue Antsirabi is lined with dozens of eateries and pubs that serve roast chicken, harira, tajine, couscous, and other dishes. A few eateries on Rue de Ghana, right off Rue Antsirabi, are well-liked by tourists and provide meals for 40 dirhams.

◾Avenue Allal Ben Abdellah, Le Pub. daily until midnight; open. French cuisine is excellent, though a little experimental. It has a liquor license and the pizza is not at all horrible. 50 dh-120 dh.

◾Athenos, Mohamed V Avenue. Open for lunch. Delicious Moroccan dishes, such as tajine, as well as fabulous desserts. 25 dh-70 dh.

◾Mo Di Niro, Antsirabé Street. daily until midnight; open. This eatery, which is well-liked by youngsters, serves American cuisine, including burgers, pizza, and pasta dishes. 20-100 dh. 20-100 dh.

◾Allal Ben Abdellah Avenue, La Fine Bouche. open daily till 2:00. Delicious chawarmas and other delicacies are offered there. 15-50 dh.

◾Ibis Inn. Although this brand of hotels boasts a respectable French meal menu, the true draw is that they serve booze. 50-150 dh

◾Gallery label. Several restaurants, some open into the wee hours. It is the only place to find international cuisine, including Mexican, American, Thai, and Lebanese. It is the closest thing to a retail mall. Prices can vary greatly.

◾The most well-known Meknassi restaurant, Marhaba, serves Ma’aqouda and harira on its regional menu.

In the medina of Meknes

◾67 Rue driba, Les Colliers de Colombe. Near the medina, behind Lalla Aouda, adhere to the signage. Every day is open. Yummy Moroccan foods, such as bastilla. Most dishes cost above 100 dh, though prices might vary.

◾The market near the main square of the medina, in the Bab El-Mansur neighborhood, has good fresh produce and lots of different kinds of olives, sweets…etc.

History of Meknes

Meknassa Ez-Zeitoun (Meknassa of the Olives) was founded by Berbers in the ninth century, but it wasn’t until the Almoravids constructed a bastion and a fortress in 1069 that it truly came into its own. Meknes reached its pinnacle during the rule of Mulay Ismail after enduring numerous sieges, conquests, abandonments, and reconstructions. This Sun King Louis XIV of France’s contemporaries from the Alaouite tribe developed Meknes by giving it ramparts with imposing gates, gardens, mosques, citadels, and his first palace, Dar Kebira. The outcome is one of Morocco’s most stunning and intriguing cities.

The Alawite Sultan Moulay Ismail’s reign is the bloodiest episode in the city’s history. If its significant structures and more than 40 kilometers of defensive walls could talk, they would narrate tales of beheadings, concubines, and servitude. They would talk about vast armies of slaves who were Christians. They would briefly discuss “the warrior king,” Alaouite Ismail Ibn Sharif.


He succeeded his brother Al-Rachid, who was unable to recuperate from severe wounds sustained when he fell from his horse, to the kingdom. Ismail arrived in a nation beleaguered by civil war. Ismail made the decision to relocate the capital from Fes to Meknes as soon as he arrived at the sultanate. He gave the order to erect the city’s renowned walls as well as a massive palace, which was staffed by an army of more than 25,000 slaves who were primarily taken during pirate raids on European ships. He was able to bring back most of the tribes and drive out the foreigners who had taken up residence along the coast. For this, he employed the Black Guard, a terrifying army made up of more than 100,000 slaves from the Sudan.

Ismail was more feared than adored and is known as one of the most murderous sultans in history. Sultan Ismail led a ruthless campaign from Meknes against the Ottoman siege from Algeria to solidify the borders of the fledgling state of Morocco. As part of his resistance to European meddling, he took Tangier from the English and Larache and Mamoura from the Spanish.

Things to do in Meknes: Nightlife

Only a few of Meknes’ bars are appropriate for travelers, although for some inexplicable reason the city seems to have more bars than residents. Please be aware that pricing listed online may change.

◾Avenue Allal Ben Abdellah, Le Pub. daily until midnight; open. among the few locations in Meknes where ladies feel at ease ordering drinks. This bustling bar has two levels. Bottles of beer cost 15–45 dh, while cocktails cost 50 dh. Wines from the region are worth trying, especially Guerrouane and Amazir. Shisha (a water pipe filled with tobacco) costs 50 dirhams.

◾The novelty, above Paris street. Open every day until midnight. About this bar, recently renovated, it is rumored that its owners are Italian, which would explain the decoration. It is also the only place in Meknes to drink draft beer. 15 dh-45 dh bottles of beer, cocktails 50 dh. Wine is served in bottles only.

◾Hotel Zaki, open until late, the only place to drink outdoors in Meknes.

Shopping in Meknes

Although it’s not exactly a haven for shoppers, this city is undoubtedly less expensive than Fes. The medina is brimming with traditional Moroccan apparel, rugs, and the country’s well-known bilgha shoes. Additionally, it is well-known for its iron and goods created by regional artisans. There are numerous tourist-oriented shops behind Hedim, near to Dar Jamai.

Verify the price before agreeing to it; never take the seller’s first offer. Offering exactly half of the asking price (or 75% for expensive or large-scale things) is the simplest approach to haggle, especially if you don’t speak French or Arabic. The merchant will then decrease his price a bit further until you two come to an agreement.

If you can’t reach an agreement, act as if you’re leaving; usually, this will result in a large price reduction. Also, try to avoid being too cheap.

Surroundings of Meknes

◾The Volubilis Roman Ruins, also known as Oualili in Arabic and Berber, are close to the city and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

◾Near Volubilis and 14 kilometers from Meknes lies Moulay Idriss Zerhoun. The little village, which is perched on a hill and was established by Moulay Idriss I, is revered by Muslims. Every year, a moussem is held here.

Hotels in Meknes

Just before the medina, along the Rue Rouamzine, you’ll find the majority of cheap hotels. The riads, one of the several types of accommodations in Meknes, are the most appealing because of its decor, which is reminiscent of the most affluent imperial period. A residence or former palace surrounded by a garden is called a riad. You can look for and reserve the most affordable lodging at the following website.

Two minutes separate the el Hédime and Bab Mansour squares from the lovely riad el Yacout. The interior is nicely decorated, and the personnel provides outstanding service. It is a fantastic option for lodging because to its outstanding position, the proximity of public parking, and its affordability. Highly recommended

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