Top 5 reasons why you should visit Meknes, Morocco
Meknes is a city in northern Morocco. It’s known for its imperial past, with remnants including Bab Mansour, a huge gate with arches and mosaic tiling. The gate leads into the former imperial city. The Mausoleum of Sultan Moulay Ismail, who made the city his capital in the 17th century, has courtyards and fountains. To the south, ruined Heri es-Souani is a vast structure once used as stables and for food storage.
1. The city of a hundred minarets
Once overlooked by many tourists, Meknes is today one of the hubs of Morocco. It is to Moulay Ismaïl, eminent figure of the city, that it owes it. In fact, in the 17th century, the latter decided to make Meknes one of the most splendid imperial cities in Morocco. He succeeded, making Meknes a city popular among tourists. Even today, protected by some forty kilometers of walls, Meknes has preserved imposing monuments, like these numerous mosques which have earned it the nickname "city of a hundred minarets".
2. Great mosque of Meknes
Its access being prohibited to non-Muslims, you will have some difficulty in appreciating its splendors if you are not of this religion. This mosque, built by the Almoravids in the 12th century and altered by the following dynasties, is topped with magnificent roofs with green tiles. You can see, from the madrasa terrace or from the street, its splendid earthenware minaret. You can also admire its magnificent doors and their sculpted awnings. If you are non-Muslim then pray to Allah that the doors will be opened. You can then quickly take an inquisitive look.
3. Mausoleum of Moulay Ismaïl
Built in 1703 by Ahmed Eddahbi, this mosque has become the mausoleum where Sultan Moulay Ismail rests alongside one of his wives and two of his sons. It is one of the few religious monuments in Morocco that non-Muslims can visit. After several courses, the last of which includes a basin for ablutions and where visitors have to take off their shoes, we reach the superb anteroom of the mausoleum. From there you will see the richly decorated burial chamber. It is decorated with four Comtoise clocks, gifts from Louis XIV to the Sultan. The latter wanted to be forgiven for refusing to give the hand of one of his daughters to Moulay Ismaïl.
4. The granaries of Moulay Ismaël or Heri es-Souani
Identified as one of the most fantastic monuments to visit in Meknes, they were built during the reign of Moulay Ismaël, then king of Morocco. These granaries were intended not only to serve as a warehouse for grains and foodstuffs, but also as hay to feed the 12,000 horses of the King's stables. The attic has 10 small rooms with huge 4m thick walls that maintain a constant and cool temperature to better store food. Each room had a well fed by a noria. The wells supplied the building at the time as well as the Souani basin, which constituted with this granary a single entity.
5. The Agdal basin
During his reign, Sultan Moulay Ismaël built several gigantic water retention basins. Among them, the Agdal basin is one of the attractions of Meknes. Located just next to Heri es-Souani, it has an area of 4 hectares. The basin was intended to irrigate the gardens of the sultanas and allow the women of the harem of Moulay Ismaël to have fun. This basin also served as a water reserve in times of war or drought. Water was brought from the Middle Atlas by pipes 15 km long. Locals make it one of their favorite walks.