Morocco Tour Guide: Meknes

Morocco Tour Guide: Meknes Last updated on Thursday 22nd April 2010

Population 750,000 (1990 est.)

Called the Moroccan Versailles, this imperial city was built as the Moroccan capital on a fertile plain north of the Middle Atlas, near Fez by Sultan Moulay Ismail, one of the first rulers of the Alawite dynasty that governed Morocco.

Moulay Ismail came to power in 1672 at age 26 and reigned for 55 years. When a French princess refused his hand in marriage, the young Sultan swore that he would build a palace that would rival Versailles in splendour. He pressed 50,000 workers into service building a series of palaces, mile after mile of walls, battlements and ramparts, and a vast marketplace.

The imperial city was completed by Moulay Ismail's son Moulay Abdallah (1727-1757) and his grandson Sidi Mohamed ben Abdallah (1757-1790).

When, in the early 19th century, Meknes ceased to be an imperial capital, it became neglected. It was not until the reign of Moulay Hassan at the end of the century that Meknes was restored and revived.

Meknes is connected to the coastal cities by rail, while paved roads lead to mountain resorts. The surrounding region is fertile and the city produces many agricultural products including fruit, grain and vegetables, as well as metalwork, carpets, woollen fabrics and cement.

The Roman ruins of Volubilis and the holy city of Moulay Idriss, established in A.D. 788, where the founder of Morocco is buried, are located to the north of the city.

General information

Tourist Board
Place Administrative
Tel: 52 44 26

Tourist Information Office
Esplanade de la Foire
Tel: 52 01 91

Main festivals and cultural events
El Haboul Festival
Regional Fair
Moussem Sidi Ben Aissa
Moussem Moulay Idris I
World Theatre Day

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