Touta 5 Sidi Abdellah el Kassri, Meknes, 50000, Morocco
More about Meknes
Travel Tips for Meknes
Volubilis was built during the Roman Empire and has been inhabited until the 18th century. It gives a good idea of how life was at that time. The site is similar to Jerash in Syria and Ephesus in Turkey but mosaics are better in Volubilis.
To get to Volubilis, you can hire a "grand taxi". The ride between Meknès and Volubilis is 30 minutes long and 2 hours are plenty to visit Volubilis. We manage to get a taxi and 2 hours on site for 150 Dh (US$15).
Price: 20 Dh/pers (US$2)
Bab Mansour El Aleuj
You will find a visit of the Bab Mansour recommended in every tourist guide book: the famous gate is regarded as THE sight in Meknès.
Situated in the southeast side of the Place El Hedim, the Bab Mansour has been created as the grandiose entrance to the Ville Impériale, that would impress every visitor with the splendour and glamour of the Moroccan Sultan's rule. Thus it had a part in the concept of outward representation, that should strenghten and consolidate the Sultan's power and the legitimation of his rule.
Adapting the classical style of Almohade architecture, the facade is decorated with beautiful tile ornaments. An inscription celebrates God and the doings of the Alaouite Sultan Moulay Ismail, under whose rule the building of the gate was begun. Legend has it that the two marble columns, that flank the gate, were taken from Volubilis. But it is only verified that the Sultan had part of Volubilis' houses torn down to gain building materials für his achitectural projects. In 1732, under the reign of his son Moulay Abdallah the Bab Mansour was completed.
Regarding the importance of the gate for Moroccan architecture and history, you should not wonder at the many lengends about the gate. One has it that the gate was named after its architect. It is said that he was called Mansour El Aleuj (Mansour, the renegate), having converted from Christianity to Islam.
It is also said that court sessions were held in front of the Bab Mansour, and that the heads of the convicted were exhibited here.
Meknes. Royal but divided
Meknes has been called the Versailles of Morocco, but the grand scheme for a royal palace was never completed. Today the city is the centre of a productive area, producing olives, wine, cereal crops and citrus.
The old city is not among the finest in Morocco, but the royal palace is filling a considerable part of it. The palace was erected during the rule of Sultan Moulay Ismail, who reigned for 55 years around 1700. He was a true tyrant, and one believes that he had around 30,000 people killed during this period, but the figures are far higher if you include the ones killed in his battles he conducted. His motto was: "My subjects are like rats in a basket, and if I don't shake the basket, they will gnaw their way out."
Despite Ismail's great interest in building, he never succeeded in making Meknes the great imperial city he planned it to be. Meknes has for always been stamped by its feeling of emptiness. Not even the newer French city, situated on the other side of the gorge that divides the city in two halves, managed to change this.