Overnight in a ryad in Meknès offers the opportunity to admire one of the beautiful cities of Morocco. Meknes is an engaging Imperial capital which is pleasant to live in. Despite the wealth of its historic heritage, it has retained the simplicity of its origins.
In the 17th century, the Alaouite sultan Moulay Ismaël decided to make Meknes one of the most beautiful and powerful Imperial cities in Morocco. And still today, protected by around 40km of walls, it has preserved imposing monuments, including numerous mosques which earn it its nickname of the "city of a hundred minarets". Among them, the Great Mosque, probably founded in the 12th century, is remarkable for its gates with beautiful sculpted canopies. Its medina and the remains of the royal palace earned Meknès a place on Unesco's world heritage list. The city is still prosperous, benefiting from the harvests of the fertile Saïs plains (grain, olives and grapes).
Gates and palaces
Considered to be one of the most beautiful gates in the world, Bab Mansour was constructed at the beginning of the 18th century. It is the entrance to the Imperial city proper, where a visit to the sultan's mausoleum is still of interest. You can also meditate on the edge of the Agdal pond, an immense rectangular basin.
Markets and lively squares
Meknes has one of the busiest medinas in Morocco. The Place El-Hedime, located exactly between the old town and the Imperial part of the city, houses the covered market and becomes busy at dusk: fire-swallowers, storytellers, animal trainers and jugglers create an atmosphere different from anything you are used to.
The regional ethnographic museum, which has its home in the Dar Jamaï palace, is arranged seamlessly around a superb Andalusian garden. Gold stitching, faience and ancient jewelry give a comprehensive glimpse into the Kingdom's past splendors.
The largest Roman archeological site in Morocco lies 31km north of Meknès: Volubilis. Triumphal arch, capitol building, house of Bacchus – everything testifies to the city's splendor and its economical and political weight. Not to mention the moving delicacy of the mosaics. Allow at least two hours to discover this open-air treasure.