Meknes - Morocco on our mind
Meknes, Morocco is a monumental city constructed in Hispanic-Moorish style; surrounded by high walls with great doors, where the harmonious blending of the Islamic and European styles of the 17th century Maghreb are still evident today. It is the presence today of this memorable city containing the rare remains and important monuments located within a rapidly changing urban environment that gives this urban heritage its universal value. Meknes is of particular interest as it represents the first great work of the Alaouite dynasty, the name of the current Moroccan royal family.
Meknes has more history than it does sights. Most of the tourists are back-packers or road trippers. What most people don't know is the degree of importance this city has in Moroccan history. Meknes was the capital of Morocco under the reign of Moulay Ismail, before it was relocated to Marrakech.
Our first sight upon entering the gateway into the centre, we stopped along Sahrij Swani (Basin of the Norias). Today the lake attracts tourists visiting the town and also its inhabitants, who come on weekends to cool down during the summer months. The ruins behind the lake couldn't go unnoticed and we were told it was a building containing the Meknes grain silos within the enclosure wall of the Royal Palace. Inside the palace you can get amazing shots of some of the walls measuring 7 metres in thickness, historically enabling the food to be preserved maintaining a constant temperature inside of the building.
We came across the amazing Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, a peaceful and spiritual resting place of Sultan Moulay Ismail, which is one of the few sacred sites in Morocco open to non-Muslims. The entry is through a series of austere, peaceful courtyards and ends in the lavish tomb hall which shows some of the best of Moroccan craftsmanship. The outside facade is brilliant as well with different colours spiralling in different shapes.
Meknes is a symbolic point of destination in Morocco for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its monuments, gates, granaries and stables. What we found to be the most exciting part of our trip is the great value and fun experience for anything you sought out for. Shopping can be a bargain and some really cheap museums such as the Dar Jamai Museum (10 dh/ 1 euro) can be enjoyed at your own pace.
The people of Meknes are proud, easy going individuals. The shoppers are mostly locals, as there are few tourists in the area. The salesmen are amongst the easiest going sales people in Morocco. Enjoy the Moroccan way of life here and get entertained by the beauty of your surroundings.