An integrated system
Every district in the medina has its own hamman - bathing house - and mosque. What we learned is that the water of the hamman is heated using the wood parts and sawdust of the many carpenters and wood workers. They have special holes in the floor to brush the sawdust in. This heat is also used to bake bread and make the traditional stews in the tajine. We peeked in at a few of these wonderful places, thanks to our guide. Only a couple are heated with oil: they are the ones with the black smoke coming from the chimneys.
- Historical Travel
The Roman ruins at Volubilis are a popular day-trip from Meknes and many people combine a visit to the ruins with a trip to the nearby town of Moulay Idriss. Volubilis is about 32 km from Meknes and the ruins are 1km west of the N13 road to Sidi Kacem. There are frequent Grand Taxis and buses to Volubilis from Meknes.
Volubilis was one of the most remote outposts of the Roman Empire and the ruins here are amongst the best preserved and definitely the best known in Morocco. It costs 10 Dh per person to visit the ruins though hiring a guide costs extra. The ruins are spread out over a large area so you’ll need about 2 hours to see everything. There are a couple of cafes and a hotel near the ruins though it’s a better idea to bring a picnic or have lunch in Moulay Idriss.
Containing one of the most important religious sites in Morocco, Moulay Idriss was for many years off limits to non-Muslims, and, according to one guide book I read, even until a few years ago non-Muslims were not permitted to stay overnight here. That seems to have all changes nowadays as we were offered rooms and tours of the medina by lots of locals.
The main site in the town is the shrine and zaouia of Moulay Idriss, great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the founder of the town. This remains closed to non-Muslims though you can approach the entrance to the shrine and take pictures. Also worth seeing are the views from the terraces on the highest points on either side of the town. Locals will offer to show you the way and probably follow you for a short distance but the path is easy to find. From the top you get an excellent view of the shrine and of the rest of the town.
Moulay Idriss is about 25 km north of Meknes and there is regular public transport between the two. A popular day-trip from Meknes combines a visit to Moulay Idriss with nearby Volubils, 4 km further north.
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