Meknes – The Original Capital of Morocco
Meknes, situated just an hour away from Fez, is a city whose history drips of imperialism, grandeur, and magnificence. Back in the 17th century, Sultan Moulay Ismail made Meknes the capital of his kingdom. While that was quite some time ago, the soul of a once kingdom capital can still be felt and experienced in this quaint city.
Meknes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the 4 Imperial cities of Morocco. However, off late, it has always been overshadowed by more popular tourist destinations like Fez. In fact, nowadays, Meknes usually features as a side trip when one visits Fez and has some spare time to kill. But don’t let this touristy way of thinking get in the way of your itinerary. If you have time, make sure you spend a night at Meknes.
Meknes is full of beautiful structures, and the best part is that they are just a walk away from each other. What is more special is the fact that because of tourists’ perception towards Meknes, this place remains quiet, peaceful, and free from hordes of crowd that one typically finds at tourist spots.
There are so many things that you can enjoy here starting from Bab Mansour, which is the ginormous gate which serves as an entry point to this city. The wood carvings and beautiful tile work make this one of the most beautiful gates in the whole of Morocco. Moving on, you should visit Place Hedim, which is the main quarter in the old city. Here, you can enjoy a nice coffee at the local cafes, and even savor some tasty Moroccan cuisine.
After a refreshing meal, you can head to the Dar Jamai museum which is again just a walk away from Place Hedim. The museum’s architecture is perhaps more beautiful than the stuff displayed inside!
If you are in Meknes, it is only natural that you should visit the resting place of the person who made this city his Kingdom – Moulay Ismail. Moulay Ismail’s Mausoleum is situated just a walk away from Bab Mansour, and is known for the intricately designed inner mausoleum where the body of Ismail has been laid to rest.
Meknes’ medina was established in the 9th century. The bazaar, or the marketplace becomes very lively during the night time, and is abuzz with activities, music, and aroma of food being cooked all over the place. It’s a perfect place to indulge in some street shopping before you bid adieu to this city. As a tip, just ensure that if you are visiting during the summer, you carry adequate water, a hat, and sun glasses.