Bab EL Mansour at Night

Meknes City Guide

A Tour of Meknes, Morocco

Meknes is a beautiful and historic city in northern Morocco. It is well renowned for having an imperial past, and one of the remaining examples is Bab Mansour, a sizable gate with arches and mosaic tile. There are courtyards and fountains at the mausoleum of Sultan Moulay Ismail, who made the city his capital in the 17th century. Then the ruined Heri es-Souani, a large building that was previously used for stables and food storage, is to the south.


Meknes is impressively situated geographically in the Sass Plain between the Middle Atlas and the Zerhoun pre-rifan mountain. It includes remnants of the Medina, which attests to an ancient socioeconomic structure, and the imperial metropolis built by Sultan Moulay.
What gives this urban treasure its worldwide worth is the current existence of this ancient city with its great monuments and unusual ruins situated within a dynamic urban setting. A set of walls encloses the two ensembles and keeps them apart from one another. Meknes is particularly interesting since it is the first major creation of the Alaouite dynasty and reflects the magnificence of its architect, in addition to being created in the Hispano-Moorish style, which adds to its architectural interest. It also offers a novel approach to urban design, fusing aspects of Islamic and European town planning and architecture.
Key buildings, including 25 mosques, 10 hammams, palaces, enormous graneries, remnants of fondouks (inns for merchants), and private homes. All these structures bear witness to the Almoravid, Merinid, and Alaouite Periods behind the high defensive walls that are entered by nine massive gates.

Heri Es Souani

Places to Visit

Three of the greatest attractions of Meknes itself include the medina's architecture, Bab el-imposing Mansour's entryway, and the stunning Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail. The hilltop pilgrimage town of Moulay Idriss is one of the most picturesque settlements in this area, and also the closest base to this one. Some key places to visit are:

  • Explore the Roman Ruins of Volubilis
    The principal tourist destination in Meknes is the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis, which are located around 29 kilometers away.
    This is the most well-known Roman relic in Morocco, and with good cause. The remaining columns and temple ruins of Volubilis are a striking and mesmerizing sight, perched atop a hill with the landscape sprawling out below. Many of the exquisite and elaborate floor mosaics in the large Roman villas of Volubilis have been kept in situ, giving you a sense of the magnificence of prosperous Roman life, even though most of what has been excavated here is now on show in Rabat's Archaeology Museum. The majority of the ruins are from the city's heyday between AD 24 and 285 when it functioned as the provincial capital of the Roman Empire. The House of Orpheus, the House of the Athlete, and the House of the Labors of Hercules, with their notably well-preserved mosaics, are of particular importance. Meknes is 32 kilometers to the north of Volubilis.


  • Relish and Capture the Pastel-Painted Alleys of Moulay Idriss
    The holy city of Moulay Idriss, which was created in AD 788 named after the nation's most revered saint and the Prophet Muhammad's great-great grandson, is where the first Moroccan kingdom was established.
    The city is located about 29 kilometers north of Meknes on the rocky spurs of the Khyber and Tazga hills, with the buildings spectacularly sliding down the hillsides. This location serves as a major pilgrimage site for the devout, and hundreds of people pitch tents all around the town during an annual religious celebration in August.
    The town's worship centers are off-limits to non-Muslims, but you may meander through the medina, or old town, with its winding streets painted in pastel hues, to reach the hillside routes above and enjoy amazing rooftop views of the entire community. Given that Moulay Idriss shares a road with Volubilis, it is simple to stop by either on the route to or from the ruins.


  • Admire the Artistry of Bab al-Mansour
    The primary entrance connecting Meknes' medina and Imperial City districts are Bab al- Mansour. Many architectural experts consider it to be one of North Africa's greatest examples of a surviving gateway because of its size and exquisite detailing. It was constructed by Sultan Moulay Ismail.
    The elaborate use of zellige tiling and stone carving work are only two examples of the rich architectural detail on the doorway. The gate isn't truly open today. Instead, you enter and depart by a nearby, somewhat smaller side gate that separates the medina from the Imperial City. This enables you to completely appreciate Bab al-artistic Mansour's talent while oblivious to traffic.


  • Enjoy the Imperial City
    The majority of the intriguing ancient remains in Meknes' Imperial City neighborhood date from Sultan Moulay Ismail's rule when Meknes was at its most prosperous and was the capital of Morocco. The Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail draws the majority of people, but if you have time, it's worth staying longer. Place Lalla Aouda is the major square after passing past the imposing Bab el-Mansour gate. It is only a short distance from here to Koubat Al Khayatine. Currently, a portion of the former city ambassador building is available to the public and features a brief photography exhibition about Meknes. The Moulay Ismail Mausoleum is located close by.
Bab Al Mansour

Best Time To Visit

The northern and coastal resort areas, which have a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and warm, wet winters, are best visited from May to September. The best time to travel to the south is between October and December because it may be quite hot in inland towns like Marrakech, Fez, and Meknes during this time. There are celebrations all year round. With the exception of a few national holidays, exact dates should be checked at your local tourism office as they vary from year to year in accordance with the Islamic calendar.

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