Meknes was the capital of Morocco during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail in the 17th century. He was a ruthless but successful ruler, preventing Morocco from becoming part of the Ottoman Empire. It is one of four imperials cities, along with Rabat, Fez, and Marrakech, which have all been Moroccan capitals. It is now home to nearly a million people in a sprawling city, but the historic old town remains fairly intact and a pleasure to explore on foot.
It was known as the city of a hundred gates, a slight exaggeration given that there are 27, but it does seem like there are gates everywhere.
Bab el-Khemis is an important one, the Thursday gate, named after the day of the week when the market was held. The holes are from the scaffolding used during construction, removed once complete. They now make a good home for pigeons.
Inside the city walls was the unexpected sight of this large body of water, offering beautiful reflections.
By it was this unusual statue of a traditional water seller, a rare profession these days.
I’m a big fan of these beautifully tiled water fountains that can be found throughout Moroccan towns and cities.
The many gates allow passage through the city walls. For extra protection double walls were built in some places. We walked between them along this lengthy section, behind which was the Royal Meknes Golf Course.
Behind the other wall was the attractive Lalla Aouda Mosque.
Bab Mansour el-Aleuj is the largest and most elaborate gate. It is regarded as the finest in Morocco, but I wasn’t entirely convinced.
In front of the gate the Place el-Hedime was busy with snake charmers, ostriches and stalls, but I preferred the details around the sides of the square.
From there we headed into a maze of narrow streets offering atmospheric views and appealing doorways.
And a less appealing camel head…
There was also some unexpected street art.