This post is part of a series called Morocco May 2017
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Next day, plan was to explore Meknes. Meknes is about 60kms west of Fes, and is another old city (1000ys old) that was an Arab capital. Meknes is smaller than Fes, and is home to the Moroccan Ismaili’s.

Meknes was the capital of Sultan Moulay Ismail (again claiming direct descendance from the Prophet Mohammed) who was one of the Arab dynasties to rule Morocco.  Moulay Ismail’s followers are the Ismaili’s.

Sultan Moulay Ismail ruled the area for 55yrs, and he converted Meknes into a spectacular capital city, complete with 50 palaces inside a 45km long Medina wall, with 20 Bab’s or gates that controlled access to Meknes. The lasting remains of Moulay Ismail’s reign is the Ville Imperiale which were his palaces, gardens, barracks, stables and granaries. Unfortunately, the palaces, gardens and barracks were under serious renovations, and hence were closed for visitors. Only the granaries and stables were open; more on that later.

Before leaving Fes, I could not help taking a few more pictures below

Entrance to Kairaouine Mosque (which like most mosques was closed outside prayer times), and Fes hats

Leather hides for sale, I was scared that that sagging shelf was about to fall

By the Tannery, with donkeys carrying away the processed hides to the souks and Fondouks for processing.

Friendly shop owner

We had rented a car, but the car rental agency was at the Fes airport, so we took a taxi to the airport, stopping along the way to get some cash from the bank, and a local SIM card.

At the airport, only I was allowed in (without plane ticket or itinerary) to rent the car. As usual, it does take some time to rent cars in foreign places. Got the car (Citroen Berlingo), which is a small minivan; with plenty of room for 4 people and luggage.

The car came with no gas, so first stop was the first gas station we could find for a diesel fill up, then then we drove to Meknes on the Auto route (tollway). The Auto route was very good, smooth and extremely well maintained.

Cost to use the tollway was 12 Dhirams or $1.20 for ~50kms; not bad at all.

Since I did not have cheap data plan on my mobile, I used an offline map on the mobile, using the mobile’s GPS system. This was pretty good, and we managed to get to Meknes town center, where we had planned to visit Moulay Ismail’s Ville Imperiale; but as mentioned, it was closed for renovations.

So we called Fatima using our local mobile, at whose Riad (Riad Amazigh) we were staying. She came over & meet us at the famous Bab Mansour, led us to the parking and then we loaded our bags onto a cart, and walked into the Medina to her Riad in the old Medina.

Fatima settled us into her Riad, another nice traditionally decorated old Moroccan house, in the heart of the Medina. We took the rooftop room which was cool and had a nice view of the old Median. Fatima gave us a brief into to Meknes, and oriented us to how to find our way back to the Riad, gave us some ideas of where to go and what to do, and off we went to explore.

The Median here was similar to Fes, except smaller, and less crowded, due to smaller population, and still very pleasant and easy to get lost within.

Meknes is famous for the Place El Hedim, which was a large square that the Sultan Moulay Ismail had had cleared out to make an open space for all citizens to enjoy a communal gathering area. Place El Hedim is opposite the Bab Mansour, and is a large open air square, with a fresh fruit and vegetable market to one side. We headed off to the market from the square before the market closed for the evening.  See pics below

Place El Hedim, with Bab Mansour in the far back

Dates galore in the market

Nobody should come between a man and his olives

Spices & dried legumes

Fruit and vegetable stand

And yummy sweets

Outside the covered market was a huge area full of stalls of breads, and fruits mostly, but also clothing etc

Anyone for bread?

Huge outdoor market behing the vegetable market

Tasting was normal

Loquat fruit was tasty and succulent

Cherries, Plums, Apricots, Oranges, Lemons, Loquat,…….

Roasted meat stands

Must Visit
After this market, we headed back to Place El Hedim, where all sorts of comedians, storytellers, magicians, singers/dancers were entertaining the crowds that had gathered.

We stopped at a comedian where there was a large crowd, and the comedian grabbed me and took me in the center, and talked a lot in Berber, made me say a few words, and made the crowd laugh a lot, at my expense 🙂 . Never mind; I don’t mind making people happy.

Then he grabbed Dilshad and took her into the center and she danced a little for the crowd; again a lot of laughter 🙂

Dilshad entertaining the crowd

Check out the short video below

By this time, the sun had started setting……

Place El Hedim commerce with Bab Mansour in the back; notice the pink colors of the wall

After watching a spectacular sunset, we went back into the Medina; scenes below

Shoes anyone?

Shoppers delight

Busy Medina, even in the evening

We made our way back to the Riad and after freshening up; decide to go have a pizza. We were tired of Tagine, and wanted good old fast food :(. Fatima, was ever helpful as are all Moroccans we have encountered so far; & took us to a nice small pizza place in an alleyway in the Median that was relatively inexpensive (30 Dhiram for a medium pizza; or $3); and the pizza was fresh and excellent.

While we were eating, a man drove in on a scooter with his dog riding with him as below 🙂 to pick up a take out pizza. The dog was actually riding like this on the scooter, with his owner sitting behind him.

After the pizza, we headed back to the Riad for a good rest, as we have a long day ahead.

Merzouga next

This entry was posted in Africa, Morocco, Morocco May 2017

12 thoughts on “Meknes, Morocco

  • Pingback: Fes Tannery’s & Sufi Music Festival, Morocco - Ali Karim Travelog

  • churches in lees summit July 31, 2017 at 11:03 pm Reply

    Heya! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and
    look forward to all your posts! Carry on the outstanding work!

  • off highway vehicles July 18, 2017 at 10:18 pm Reply

    I seriously love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme.
    Did you develop this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own blog and would love
    to learn whete you got this from or what the theme is named.

    Many thanks!

    • Ali Karim July 19, 2017 at 11:15 pm Reply

      Thanks for the complements. This is a WordPress site and the theme is “WPVoyager – Travel Blog WordPress Theme”

      Good luck, and thanks for following me

  • Zul Walji June 19, 2017 at 9:04 pm Reply

    Very, very interesting indeed

  • Benita Naidu June 19, 2017 at 9:07 pm Reply


  • Sabira Begum June 19, 2017 at 9:05 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing…will look at leisure.

  • Anar Karim June 19, 2017 at 9:02 pm Reply

    Wow, Ali, have been reading your blogs, wish i was there, definitely my next trip is going to be Morocco. I have really enjoyed reading about your trips.

  • Shamim June 7, 2017 at 8:53 am Reply

    Absolutely agree that u should b a tour guide. May b u can arrange a guided tour for Chai group what say!
    Enjoying the blog and dreaming of visiting these places inshallah. Thx for taking the time to share.

    • Ali Karim June 7, 2017 at 9:43 am Reply

      Thanks Shamim; glad you are enjoying the travelog

  • ALAMARA GIWANI June 6, 2017 at 10:12 pm Reply

    you seriously need to go into the guided tours business. loving and enjoying reading your blog. thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ali Karim June 7, 2017 at 7:14 am Reply

      THanks Alamara; you are too kind.

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