Meknes city | A Moroccan pearl worth visiting
The city of Meknes is located in the north of Morocco and near the Atlas Mountains. Meknes was the capital of Morocco until 1727, and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, Meknes is one of the largest cities in Morocco, and it is one of the four imperial cities of Morocco, alongside Fes, Marrakech, and Rabat.
In Meknes, there are many beautiful places to visit such as the ancient gates, ancient walls, mosques, and the enormous palaces built by the Sultan Ismail ben Cherif in the 17th century.
When to travel to Meknes?
The Climate in Meknes is Mediterranean, which makes it a perfect destination throughout the year. However, the spring and autumn seasons are ideal for visiting Meknes.
The history of Meknes
Meknes was established in the 11th century as a military installation, and later it became a capital under the rule of Sultan Moulay Ismail in the 17th century. Then, Meknes turned into an impressive city with the creation of extensive gardens, many monuments, and mosques, as well as 40 km of thick walls and distinctive archaeological gates.
The 18th century marked the end of the days of the glory of Meknes with the death of Sultan Ismail. and with the earthquake in 1755 that destroyed large parts of the city. In 1996, the city of Meknes was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of its exceptional design and architecture which pushed the authorities in Morocco to start several refurbishment projects to help preserve this wonderful historical city for the future generations.
Parts of the reign that Sultan Ismail built remain standing today, so start your visit in Bab al-Mansur, the largest gate in Meknes which is made from huge marble columns taken from the Roman ruins close to Volubilis city.
The Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail is the final resting place of the Sultan who built this magnificent city. Since Ismail is recognized as one of the greatest rulers of Morocco, visitors from all over the world are allowed to access the Mausoleum through quiet courtyards beautifully decorated and designed.
Moreover, the Roman ruins of Volubilis are located just outside Meknes, as the site contains more than 30 magnificent mosaics in excellent condition that tell the stories of the ancient Roman Empire. You can visit the ruins of Volubilis on an easy day trip from Meknes and it can be combined with a trip to the village of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun.
The best tourist attractions in Meknes
Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail
This is the shrine in which the great ruler, Moulay Ismail, is buried, and it is one of the magnificent buildings worth visiting in the city featuring beautiful Islamic designs and architecture.
Morocco has a lot of great and luxurious gates, and Bab Mansour is definitely one of them. It is known for its wonderful mosaic and colorful porcelain, and is considered the entrance to the world of the old city that is filled with charm, wonderful streets, and diverse markets.
El Hedim Square
On the other side of Bab Al-Mansour, you'll find the Hedim Square which serves as the beating heart of Meknes. It is similar to the famous Jamaâ El Fna Square in Marrakesh, which means you will see snake charmers, and various shows by street artists, as well as many restaurants, and cafes.
Actually, this is a money saving tip anywhere in Morocco. Bargaining is common in the Moroccan culture, and you have to do it almost everywhere. If you are planning to buy souvenirs or anything else from the markets, do not hesitate to negotiate and save money.
Do not stay long
Meknes is very small. It is often visited for one day from Fes because you can see everything in one day. But if you also want to visit Moulay Idriss Zerhoun and Volubilis, you may need two days.
Do not take a taxi from Central Station
There are two train stations in Meknes, do not get off at the central station, but at the Prince station, as this is closer to the city of Meknes, which saves you money and time.
Local cooking lessons
Many restaurants, Riads, hotels, and independent culinary schools provide the visitors with an opportunity to learn how to prepare Moroccan dishes. Cooking lessons are a great way to learn more about the local culture as well, as many cooking sessions also include a visit to the local markets to purchase ingredients, spices, and herbs commonly found in the Moroccan cuisine.
Couscous, Tagine, Pastilla, salads, and various types of Moroccan bread and pastries are a few things you may be able to learn during these cooking lessons.