The Grand Mosque
This mosque was built by Yousef Ben Tashafin. The Great Moravid Sultan who built Both Marrakish and Meknas. The mosque was renovated during Mohammed Alnasser in 1199 as indicated by the inscription. It has a central court yard and three big prayer halls interconnected. I was able to take 3 pictures from inside the mosque before I was told that I should stop. This mosque is located in front of Madrasat Abou Inan.
The Medina I, alleys and Markets
Meknas is the name of the original Berber tribe that used live in this area. The Mekanssa tribe dominated eastern Morocco during the times of Moulay Idress. This tribe played a major role in M Idess success. The original city was established in the 11 th century by Yusuf Ben Tashafin, the same person who built Marrakesh,
The Medina is on the UNISCO World Heritage sites since 1996. The city was included on the list because it captured and preserved a picture of life and architecture of human life during the 17th century. At that time Meknes was the capital of Morocco during the reign of Mouly Ismail; the founder of the current Alwaite Dynasty.
It is always a pleasure when you walk in an old madina. The narrow streets, the closed markets are very fascinating. There is plenty of shops in various markets located in the city beyond the Grand Mosque that you can buy gift and stuff.
Madrasat Abou Inan
This school was built in 1345 by Sultan Abo Al- Hassan Almareeni (aka The Black Sultan) who also built Chillah, although for some reason it is named for his son Sultan Abo Inan. Both sultans are barried at chillah. You can enter this school daily from 9-12 and 3-6. It will cost 10 dh. You are free to take as many picture as you want. The school is located near the grand mosque.
The school has 2 floor surrounding acourt yard, There is a prayer hall and lots of class room. This is a superb example of high craftsmanship.
Students were entitled to free boarding.
Mausoleum of Mouly Ismail
This Mausoleum was built by Mouly Ismail. Initially it was used as a court and then a place where he would meet with his advisors. This building is open 8:30-12:30 and 3:30-6:30 for visitors all days of the week except for Friday morning. Entrance if free and you can take all the pictrues you want. Don't forget it is a tomb so wear something respectable that cover your shoulder and it extended below your knee. I saw the guard prevent a woman from entering inside a tomb because of her clothes.
The building is beutiful and it is a must see for every body who visit Morocco. You WON'T be able to come very close to the tomb but close enough. It is located to the south of the place Elhadem
The Medina II, Walls, Gaits and Doors
Meknas has wallls that are 25 kms long and has numerous gait, I saw Bab Almansoor, Bab Alnoor, Bab Alkhamees (Thursday gate), Bab Jadid (New gate). the city was struck by an earth quake in 1755 that devastated lots of its buildings and you can only imagine how the city will look if this did not happen.
Bab Almansoor is named after the architect who built it. This Bab was ready during the rain of Mouly Abdullah (Ismail's son). Bab Alnoor (door of light) is next to Bab Almansoor. These 2 doors are South of Place Alhadem.
Bab Mansour Gate
Moulay Ismail commissioned the gate himself, but it was not completed until after his reign in 1732. The gate is beautifully decorated in green and white ceramic tiling, and is flanked by two square bastions supported in part by marble columns taken from Volubilis.
This place is built by Mouly Ismail. It used to function as a stable for his Horses that were estimated to be 15000 as well as a storage for grains and water. This building was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755 which destroyed many buildings in the city. The first few raw were restored and should give an idea who the entire place looked like. The remaining columns that are fascinating to walk around and photograph. There are plenty of underground channels to store water. This places was a setting for Last Temptation of Christ movie.
You can visit this place daily from 9-12 and 3-6 for 10 dh%*
Views from Medersa Bou Inania
There are good views over the medina, particularly of the Great Mosque, from the roof of Medersa Bou Inania. The Meknes medina is huge and can seem confusing and endless at street level. From the rooftop you get a good idea of its size and of the layout of some of the principle buildings
The road to Heri Essoari, The Royal Palace
To get from Mouly Ismail mausoleum to Heri Essoari you can take a petit taxi. I didn't, instead I walked for 15 minutes each way. It was mid August and 11 o'clock noon so I don't suppose it will not get more difficult than that. It was a pleasant walk and I read somewhere that Moulay Ismail used to love walking down this road or ride his horses or chariot and I certainly can see why.
You get to see the gates of Royal palace. I toke few pictures of the gates (Not the main one though). The road is located between 2 high walls, the Medina on you left and the Royal Palace to your right when you are heading to the Heri Essoari.
Dar Aljamee museum
This house was built in 1882 by the Prime Minister Mohammed Aljamai. He never got to live in it as he had to relocate to Fes to be next to his nephew king Hassan the first. His brother actually lived in this house until the death of the King Hassan I. Moulay Abdul Aziz who ruled Morocco after the death of his father wasn't very kind to Aljamai brothers (his grand uncles) he imprisoned them in Tetouan and toke over their possessions. This building was used by the French as a hospital in the 1916 (St Lois Hospital) and then used as a governmental building, followed by fine art school and finally into a museum.
The house is very impressive. It has few furnished rooms, a neglected garden, in addition to a collection of display of ceramics, jewellery and the like. The museum is located to the north of Place Elhadem. It will cost you 10 DH to enter. Visiting daily from 9-12 and 3-6 daily closed on Tuesday. Photography not allowed but the house was empty so I was able to take 5 pictures
This is a public place just like DJamee Elfanaa in Marrakesh; it is a shame that it is not used the same way. You'll find non of the atmosphere which is strange. You'd think that some one from Meknas visited Marrakech and said "hmmm we can do the same thing in Meknas". Actually It was very lively in the past but it is not the way any longer.
It has few restaurants on the western wall. Dar Aljamee museum is just to the north. The old Medina is located to the east and the north. Bab Almansour, Mouly Ismail Mausoleum, the Royal Palace is located to the south.
This place was created by Mouly Ismail and he called sahat al hadem WA albena "the place of destruction and building". only alhadem remained in the current name and it means destruction :-)
Mausoleum of Ben Issa
This tomb is located in the Cemetery to the north eastern part of the city. It is located near Bab jadid, so ask about this gate and head to it. The Mausoleum is interesting and contain a tomb of Sidi ben Issa. Needless to say that I did not take a picture of the interior of the mosque or the tomb. The tomb hall was full of people who are seeking the blessing of the Sidi Ben Issa. So who was Ben Issa?l
He established the Aissaouia Cult and enabled his followers to eat every thing from scorpion to glass and poison. This bizarre action has made this cult very popular and gave it a big following. There is a yearly moussem (May/June) in which the followers will enter into a trans stage and perform all sorts of bizarre things. These actions are outlawed. If you are not a Muslim you won't be allowed to enter the mosque and the tomb.
While I was sitting, women came in Seeking the blessing of the dead man. She pays few Dirhams to of the tomb guardians who start singing in a very comical way. It was so funny that I nearly giggled.
The covered market, just off Place el-Hadim, looked very tempting though there was no way I was walking through the narrow corridors here with all our bags after our experiences in the Medina.
We returned here in 2007 and had a proper look around and to be honest it wasn't as impressive as I had first thought. The meat section was fairly revolting with all parts of the animals on show, including plenty of severed heads and innumerable flies landing on the exposed pieces of meat. We had been thinking of buying picnic supplies here, but we chose the market in the Ville Nouvelle instead.
The sections nearest Place el-Hadim are probably the most interesting and some of the stalls have a great selection of cakes, sweets and pastries. But, again, the flies were landing all these which put us off a little.
Place Administrative: View at the Medina skyline
If you want to take a little stroll in the Ville Nouvelle stop by the Place Administrative. Here you find the city-hall ("Hôtel de Ville"), the Tribunal ("Palais de Justice") and the main post office. The buildings that flank the square are nothing spectacular. They are built with the uniformity of modern city architecture, except one apartment building, designed by Le Corbusier.
In the middle of the place there is a pretty, artificial basin, where you can stop and rest. Here the Meknassi meet in the evening.
If you cross the Avenue Bengazi from the south side of the Place Administrative you get to a quite run-to-seed side-strip. From here you have a beautiful view at the Medina skyline. Unfortunately the view is somewhat marred by a wire-fence, but in the evening when the sun sets and the call for prayers starts the atmosphere is enchanting.
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Place El Hedim
In order to get from the Bab Mansour to the museum Dar Jamai, you have to cross the "Place El Hedim" ("Square of Destruction"). Legend has it that the name originated in Sultan Moulay Ismail's building activities. He had torn down a number of houses that originally were part of the medina in order to form a large, presentable forecourt for the entrance to the Ville Impériale. It is said that initially the construction waste was piled on the premisses of the Place.
Nowadays it is a center for merchants and street hawkers, who offer bits and pieces for the tourists, and still not in its best condition.
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