MEKNES IN MOROCCO, ONE OF THE IMPERIAL CITIES OF THE KINGDOM


Meknes is one of the imperial cities of Morocco. Located in the north of the kingdom, between Fez and Rabat, this city is worth a visit! At least for the time of a day, I recommend you visit Meknes during your stay in Morocco. Indeed, the places of interest in Meknes are numerous enough to have a good day!

Today on the blog, I, therefore, focus on the city of Meknes in Morocco. This post entirely dedicated to the city will cover the essentials to know before visiting Meknes: places of interest, practical information, good addresses to know where to sleep in Meknes,… In short, everything you need to know about this imperial city from Morocco.

 

Meknes In Morocco, One Of The Four Imperial Cities Of The Kingdom

Meknes (مكناس in Arabic) is one of the imperial cities of Morocco, along with Rabat, Fez and Marrakech. The city of Meknes is located in the north of Morocco, between Rabat and Fez.

The city of Meknes was founded in 711 by an Amazigh (Berber) tribe who bore the name of Meknassas, which is therefore the origin of the name of the city.

Now, Meknes is the third largest city in Morocco. Its population is close to one million inhabitants.

Even if Meknes attracts visitors, compared to cities like Fez or Marrakech, it is rather forgotten by tourists. However, and we will see it here, the city has no shortage of places of tourist interest… And in my opinion, visiting Meknes should be included in your program, especially if you are going through the north of Morocco…

Meknes, the imperial city of Morocco?

Meknes is one of the 4 imperial cities of the Shereefian kingdom. What is an imperial city in Morocco?

Imperial cities are cities which, at one point in history, were designated as the capital by one of the dynasties (several dynasties succeeded one another, such as the Idrissids, the Almoravids or at present the Alaouite dynasty) .

Coming back to Meknes, the city was the capital of the Alaouite dynasty over part of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was then under the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl. His mausoleum is also in Meknes and we will talk about it later because it is one of the most beautiful places in Meknes!

Like the other imperial cities of the kingdom, there are therefore many historic buildings in Meknes in Morocco. Visiting Meknes therefore logically has a real interest for culture lovers …

Visit Meknes Morocco: Meknes Places Of Interest

After these few facts about Meknes and the history of the city, make way for places of interest that should not be missed during a visit to Meknes in Morocco.

If you’ve never been to Morocco, you must certainly be wondering what to do in Meknes… We don’t hear much about Meknes and it’s a safe bet that you can’t name a single one of the city’s places of interest. … And yet, rest assured, there are!

The Medina Of Meknes

As elsewhere in Morocco, in Meknes, the medina is a real labyrinth of narrow streets. A pleasure to walk there and unlike the more touristic cities of the country, it is not too busy. Moreover, as soon as you leave the 2/3 alleys near Place Lahdim, you no longer see many shops for tourists.

No specific advice to enjoy the medina of Meknes. Here as elsewhere, you just need to get lost and stroll around aimlessly to soak up the atmosphere of the old town of Meknes.

The Medina Of Meknes in morocco

Madrassa Bou Inania From Meknes

It is the place of interest not to be missed in the medina of Meknes. If you go through other cities of Morocco, you will certainly have the opportunity to see other madrasahs (Koranic school).

Madrasahs are often very beautiful but let’s face it, there is not much difference …

However, if you plan to visit Meknes, you must go and see the Bou Inania madrassa. Why ? Quite simply because it is possible to climb on the roof of the building. From the roof, the view of the Great Mosque of Meknes is superb!

Madrassa Bou Inania From Meknes

Bab Mansour

Bab Mansour or Bab Mansour el-Aleuj for its full name is one of the city gates of Meknes. It is the door (bab meaning door in Arabic) which marked the entrance to the imperial palace.

Impressive, it is also the largest gate in Morocco. It is located right in front of Lahdim Square, so you cannot miss it during your visit to Meknes. Moreover, if you reach the medina of Meknes by taxi, just ask it to drop you off at Bab Mansour. This is the most common place to be dropped off near the medina (pedestrian zone).

Bab Mansour : visit meknes in morocco

Place Lahdim

Place Lahdim is located between Bab Mansour and the Meknes medina. It is one of my favorite places in Meknes.

This vast square on the edge of the medina has a few restaurants and the covered market is right next door (don’t hesitate to take a look, it is just behind the restaurants in the square).

From the end of the afternoon and during the evening, Lahdim square comes alive and becomes a miniature Jemaa el Fna square, without the scams and dozens of touts …

If you spend a night in Meknes (I’ll talk about it later, that’s what I recommend), this is where you have to spend the evening! The restaurants in the square are not particularly remarkable but you can eat there inexpensively and enjoy the bustle of Lahdim Square… After a day spent visiting Meknes, enjoying the bustle of Lahdim beach is a good time of relaxation.

The Kara prison

The Kara prison, also spelled Qara prison, is located near the mausoleum of Moulay Ismaïl, behind the enclosure that borders Bab Mansour. It is nicknamed the prison of Christians.

This prison was built during the reign of Moulay Ismail. It is said that it could house up to 40,000 prisoners.

This visit is not essential but still deserves the detour in my opinion. Entrance fee at 10 Dh. Please note, prison hours are sometimes fluctuating… It is sometimes closed at noon.

Heri Es Souani Or Granaries Of Meknes

The granaries of Meknes or the granaries of Moulai Ismaïl are also worth a visit. They are a little further from other places of interest in Meknes. However, if you plan to visit Meknes, know that it is quite easy to get there from the medina of Meknes. Either on foot or with a short taxi ride.

There is an old attic dating from the 18th century but also the ruins of Moulai Ismaïl’s stables.

Heri Es Souani Or Granaries Of Meknes

Just opposite is the Souani basin, a large water basin. The surroundings of the basin are very popular, especially by young people. A pleasant place to rest between 2 visits to Meknes.

Mausoleum Of Moulay Ismaïl

Magnificent mausoleum! It is my favorite place in Meknes. If you plan to visit Meknes, do not miss this mausoleum …

Rather rare in Morocco, the whole mausoleum can be visited, including the room where the tomb of Moulay Ismaïl is located and where the faithful come to pray or meditate.

In 2017, it was closed for renovation. I don’t know if it’s open again …

Mausoleum Of Moulay Ismaïl

Dar Jamaï Museum In Meknes

Last place of interest in Meknes that I will mention in this post, the Dar Jamaï museum. This museum is located close to Lahdim Square. Entrance costs 10 Dh or 1 euro and it takes 30 minutes to visit it.

The museum patio is nice. Here again if you plan to visit Meknes in Morocco, know that it is not necessarily a must-see but if you have some time left, a visit to this museum can be nice!

 

Where To Sleep In Meknes

Depending on the type of accommodation you want in Meknes, two main options are possible for accommodation in Meknes:

  • stay in the new town for a classic hotel
  • sleep in the medina of Meknes for a riad or a dar

The city of Meknes in Morocco is not too spread out, you can easily reach the medina from the new city and vice versa.

My recommendation? Sleep in Meknes in the medina, near Place Lahdim, a really lively and very pleasant place in the evening.

Here are the addresses where to sleep in Meknes that I recommend:

  • for small budgets, the riad Hiba is ideal. 30 euros per night in double, very well located, at the entrance of the medina and it is very charming for this price. Its proximity to the entrance to the medina is very practical. You can be dropped off 2 steps from the riad with your luggage …
  • the Riad d’Or is also a very good place to stay in Meknes. It is located in the medina, near the Lahdim square, very charming! Around 40 euros per night in a double room
  • last recommendation for accommodation in Meknes, Riad Yacout . It is located in Lalla Aouda Square, the square that leads to Kara prison and the Moulai Ismail mausoleum. Very good geographical location, accessible by car less than 2/3 minutes walk from Place Lahdim and the medina.

Overall, the quality / price ratio of riads in Meknes is good. There are no exceptional riads like in Marrakech or Fez. But for a budget close to 40/50 euros per night in a double room, the quality / price ratio is excellent …

Visit Meknes In Morocco: Practical Information

Visit Meknes In Morocco: Practical Information

Last part of this post devoted to Meknes in order to give you some practical information to prepare a stay in Meknes.

These tips are quite varied and should allow you to better prepare your visit to Meknes. They relate in particular to the best months to visit Meknes or the means of transport to reach Meknes.

Best Season For Meknes

There isn’t really a month to avoid at all costs when going to Meknes. Often, a visit to Meknes is part of a larger trip to Morocco. And it is not necessarily the climate issue in Meknes that will be the priority!

However, the best months of the year to visit Meknes are in my opinion April, May, September and October. The temperatures are ideal and the risk of rain is very low.

Winter can be a bit rainy and temperatures hover around 10/15 degrees during the day. Conversely, summer is dry and very hot. The mercury often hovers around 35/40 ° in midsummer … The air being dry, even if it’s hot, visiting Meknes in midsummer is still quite possible.

Visit Meknes in morocco

How To Go To Meknes?

The easiest means of transport to get to Meknes is by train. More generally, it is the ideal way to move around Morocco between the country’s major cities. It is therefore easy to go to Meknes by train, from the Moroccan cities of Fez, Rabat, Casablanca or Tangier.

You can consult the train timetables in Morocco on the official website of the ONCF.

⇒ Book your bus and Train Tickets Online Here

As an indication, here are 2 examples of train journey to reach Meknes:

  • from Fez, allow around 40 minutes for a direct trip at the price of 22 Dh
  • from Rabat, allow around 2h to 2h30 for a direct trip at the price of 69 Dh

Note, there are 2 separate stations in Meknes: Meknes Al Amir Abdelkader and Meknes (short). Meknes Al Amir station is located in the city center (modern city). It is the best located and also the closest to the medina of Meknes. However, Meknes train station is not very far away and a short taxi ride takes you to the city center or the medina.

How Long To Visit Meknes In Morocco

To visit the main places of interest in Meknes, a good day is enough. In my post on Fez, I also indicate that it is quite possible to visit Meknes for the day starting from Fez in the morning and returning to Fez in the evening.

However, spending a night in Meknes does not seem like a better idea to fully enjoy the city. It is always nice to see a city in the evening and it will save you from having a big day by leaving Fez early and returning there late.

In addition, by spending a night in Meknes, you will have the opportunity to take advantage of the Lahdim de Meknes square, a place on the edge of the medina. There are many activities in this square, from the end of the afternoon and during a good part of the evening.

The ideal for me is, therefore, to devote a day and a half to 2 days to the city of Meknes by spending one night there.

Visit Meknes in morocco

 



 

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