Meknès never set out to be an 'imperial city'. But, as chance would have it, the inhabitants of Fès and Marrakech showed little enthusiasm for 17th-century ruler and builder Moulay Ismaïl, and so he
turned his attentions towards Meknès. Strategically situated at the heart of Morocco, Meknès became his capital and he embarked on a massive building programme. Meknès is known as a city of minarets
- gentle green or grey in colour, the tall, angular, linear towers dominate the old town, which, with its cream colour-washed houses and terraces sits above the narrow valley of the Oued Boufekrane. There are pleasant souks, a medersa - but, above all, an easy pace which is almost relaxing after the
tension and press of Fès. The most famous monument is the great Bab Mansour el Aleuj, and although
today little is left except for vast pisé walls, once upon a time this great gate to a palace complex was
worthy of the Thousand and One Nights. Meknès also offers some rewarding side trips - to the Roman
site of Volubilis, and to the pilgrimage centre of Moulay Idriss.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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