Meknes City Tour
Meknes City Tour
As often, the visit of a Moroccan city begins with the medina, in other words the old city. This is where you can really immerse yourself in the local atmosphere. In Meknes, the medina is not excessively large and it is pleasant to walk there. The starting point is the huge El Hédim square, twin square of the Djamaa Lafna square in Marrakech.
Monuments et attractions touristiques de la ville de Meknès :
Several Historical, Religious and educational buildings in Meknes: Moulay Ismaïl Mausoleum, Néjjarine Mosque, The Grand Mosque, Jamaï Roua Mosque, Cheikh El Kamel Mausoleum, Medersa Bouanania and Medersa Filalia. Museums of the city Meknes: the Dar Jamaï Museum and the Rif Pottery Museum. Gardens of the city of Meknes: Lahboul Garden and Agdal Basin. Monuments of the city of Meknes: Koubat Al Khayatine, Bab Lakhmis, Bab Berdaïne, Bab Mansour, Dar El Beid, Fandouk El Hanna, Ksar Mansour, Le Haras, Grenier et stables, Cara prison, Dar El Makhzen palace and Royal Golf . In addition to its monuments, the city hosts the International Agricultural Show of Morocco (S.I.A.M) every year, on the historic Hri Swani site near the Sahrij Swani basin or Norias basin.
The main gates of Meknes:
Meknes has 70 best-known gates and portals after that of Bab Mansour: Bab Berdaïne: opens onto the northern district of the medina. It has two square bastions decorated with green earthenware. It compensates for its massive allure with an ornamentation of predominantly green ceramics and a rich decoration of Kufic characters in zelliges.
Bab Mansour el Aleuj gate:
Bab Mansour El Alj which opens onto the immense El-Hédim square, a beautiful painted canvas 200 m long and 100 m wide. “Bab Mansour” is considered the most beautiful of the doors of Morocco. “Its symmetry is remarkable, and its surprising size. Like all the achievements of the visionary sultan, what emanates from it is elegance, robustness and power ”. In front of this square we can admire the most beautiful gate in Morocco: the Bab Mansour el Aleuj gate. Magnificent, it stands to the south of the square. You will admire the finesse and complexity of the ornamentation! Completed in 1732 by Moulay Abdallah son of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl, Bab Mansour el Aleuj is by far the most beautiful gate in Meknes. According to legend, this door is the work of a Christian convert to Islam, hence its name: “door of the renegade”. Architecturally, this monument is incredible. The symmetry is remarkable for such a large door. Dominating the immense El-Hédime square, it is framed by two superb bastions whose arches are set on marble columns. The decorations that adorn the facade are magnificent. Like the city and the buildings of Moulay Ismaïl, this door combines strength and robustness with a touch of elegance. It is often considered to be the most beautiful door in Morocco! North of the square, you can contemplate the Dar Jamaï palace.
Bab El Khemis :
It was the main entrance to the city of gardens and the old mellah (the Jewish quarter). It is framed by two bastions decorated with spandrels with green cartridges, features a rich decoration where very colorful curvilinear ornaments and Kufic characters mingle. An inscription engraved on the pediment of the door, reflects the ambition of the Sultan who ordered it: “I am the door open to all peoples, whether they are from the West or the East”. A little further on, a beautiful stanza is discovered: “I am the happy door similar, by my glory, to the full moon in the sky”.
Mausoleum of Moulay Ismaïl which is one of the few Moroccan mosques open to non-Muslims.
This tomb is, in fact, a mosque which houses the remains of Moulay Ismaïl and his family. Rarely, this mosque is partly open to non-Muslims. You will admire the many open-air rooms decorated with superb mosaics. Only Muslims have access to the burial chamber. We can nevertheless see the two clocks offered by Louis XIV to the Sultan when he refused his daughter’s hand. From there, we leave for dar el Makhzen, in other words the palace where the royal family regularly resides. This palace cannot be visited.
Royal Palace or Dar el Makhzen and imperial city of Meknes
Dreaming of a “Moroccan Versailles”, Sultan Moulay Ismaïl undertook in the 17th century the construction of an incredible imperial city. 25 kilometers of ramparts were necessary to protect this magnificent city comprising endless avenues and gigantic squares, not to mention the size of the buildings. You understand better why it is impossible to come to Meknes without going through the imperial city. Note: the tourist circuit is more than 10 km on foot. The walk is really worth the detour! The start of the visit begins at Lalla Aouda Square, accessible from the Bab Mansour el Aleuj gate. From there, the visit will be done naturally and you will be able to successively see the monuments mentioned below The Mausoleum of Moulay Ismaïl
Meknes consists of an ancient city and a modern city separated by the valley of the Boufakrane wadi. From the new city, you can enjoy a beautiful overview of the medina with its many minarets, its ramparts, its imperial city, its walls and its historical monuments belonging to the time of Moulay Ismail, the second sultan. Alawite, reigned between (1672-1727).
The name in Arabic of Place Lahdim means Place de la demolition, Place des Déchets or Place des remblais. But so far still in doubt about the original identity of the square, as well as the real reason for which it was built.
Lahdim Square is one of the most popular places in the old medina. It looks more like the Djamaa Lafna square in Marrakech with a few details. A lively place, full of street vendors, customers, passengers and tourists. Lahdim Square remains a large esplanade. It is inserted between the medina, the Kasbah – imperial city. It was undoubtedly conceived and arranged to have a place where grandiose events of all kinds could take place. It is also a multifunctional forum that can house religious, cultural, commercial activities and practices, etc. Lahdim Square was the place where the sentences pronounced by the Sultan were executed. Subsequently, the place changed status. It has become a place of welcome for ambassadors from foreign countries to present their decrees of appointments to the Sultan. It was there that the Sultan greeted them before taking them to the guesthouse next to Kara prison. During political events or religious occasions, the square was the official place where the people renewed their loyalty and fidelity to the Sultan. After the death of Sultan Moulay Ismail, the square changed its status again and remained until the end of the 19thth century the municipal souk of the city of Meknes. It will not really change shape until after the visit of King Hassan II in 1994, who wanted to give it a new identity through its renovation and the construction of fountains, giving more liveliness to the place. Today, it continues, as in the past, to be the most frequented place for tourists and residents of Meknes. It recalls by its animation and its multiple functions the famous Jamaâ El Fna in Marrakech. Despite the changes, every evening street vendors and artists gather there to bring it back to life.
The Kara prison or Cara prison is a vast underground prison built in the 18th century under the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl ben Chérif in the city of Meknes, it is located inside the Ismaili kasbah. Its name comes from a Portuguese prisoner who bought his freedom from the Sultan in exchange for the construction of the prison. Built in a labyrinth and stretched for kilometers until, they say, you reach the town of Taza. Several thousand prisoners were locked up there, including Christian slaves. Several thousand prisoners were held there, including Christian slaves, and it was later used as a silo. His visit is limited only to a part for fear of airing in its labyrinths (precaution requires).
Sahrij Swani also called Norias Basin is a large water accumulation basin 319 m long and 149 m wide, its depth exceeds two meters. It was built by Moulay Ismaïl to irrigate the gardens of Meknes and it constitutes a water reserve for the medina.
The water in the basin came from two different origins. The first of the water from the 10 wells dug nearby, below the silo, brought by 10 norias through pipes. Water from wells was used in times of war and drought. The second of the waters of the Boufekrane wadi which descends from the Middle Atlas, crosses the southern part of Meknes and supplies the basin and part of the city of Meknes. It was said that the basin was used for training the soldiers of Moulay Ismail to prepare for sea and ocean crossings in case of need. There is its identical to Marrakech in the gardens of the menara. Today, the basin is an important attraction for visitors to the city, but also for the inhabitants of Meknes who come at the end of the week to seek the freshness that is so lacking in summer.