Nestled in the heart of northern Morocco, Meknes is a city that is steeped in history and culture. Known as the Versailles of Morocco, Meknes boasts stunning architecture, vibrant markets, and an array of historical landmarks that will captivate any traveler. If you’re planning a trip to Morocco, then Meknes should definitely be on your itinerary.
Meknes was founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids, who were a Berber dynasty that ruled over Morocco and parts of Spain. The city was later fortified and expanded by the Sultan Moulay Ismail in the 17th century, who made it the capital of Morocco at the time. Meknes has a population of approximately 1 million people, and it is one of the largest cities in Morocco.
The city is located in the Saiss Plain, which is a fertile region that is known for its agriculture and vineyards. Meknes has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. The best time to visit is from April to June and September to November when the weather is pleasant, and the crowds are relatively low.
Getting to Meknes
The easiest way to get to Meknes is by flying into Fes-Saiss Airport, which is about 70 kilometers away from the city. From the airport, you can take a taxi or a bus to Meknes. If you’re coming from other Moroccan cities, you can take a train or a bus. Meknes is well-connected to other major cities in Morocco, including Casablanca, Marrakech, and Rabat.
Things to do and places to see in Meknes
The Bab Mansour Gate is one of the most impressive architectural landmarks in Meknes. Built in the 18th century, the gate is adorned with intricate tile work, calligraphy, and sculptures. The gate leads into the city’s bustling Medina, which is a vibrant and colorful market that is filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Moulay Ismail Mausoleum: The Moulay Ismail Mausoleum is a stunning example of Moroccan architecture and design. The mausoleum is the final resting place of Sultan Moulay Ismail, who was one of the most powerful rulers in Moroccan history. The site is decorated with intricate mosaics, carvings, and calligraphy.
Heri es-Souani: The Heri es-Souani is an impressive granary that was built during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail. The granary was used to store grains and other food items for the sultan’s army and horses. The site is notable for its massive vaulted ceilings and the intricate water channels that were used to irrigate the surrounding gardens.
Dar Jamai Museum: The Dar Jamai Museum is a beautifully restored palace that now serves as a museum of Moroccan art and culture. The museum features an impressive collection of pottery, textiles, jewelry, and traditional costumes.
Volubilis: Located just outside of Meknes, Volubilis is an ancient Roman city that is renowned for its well-preserved ruins. The site features a number of impressive structures, including a basilica, a triumphal arch, and several temples. Visitors can explore the ancient city and learn about its rich history and culture.
Meknes is a city that is rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s stunning architecture, shopping in the bustling markets, or learning about the region’s rich history and culture.