Imperial Cities Of Morocco

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FES, which was the capital until 1911 before its transfer to Rabat, is definitely the most attractive and picturesque city in the country. A two-day stay will only give you the chance of discovering its most important treasures.

It was founded in 789 A.D. by Idriss the First. Around 817, 800 Muslim families expelled from Cordoba/Spain moved to the city, followed by many Arabs from Tunisia and Jewish families.

Imperial Cities Of Morocco

The city’s panorama is best afforded from the two old fortresses of Borj South and North and the Merinides’s tombs.

The Medina, listed on Unesco’s World Heritage list, contains around 1400 historical buildings, including 176 mosques, 118 fondouks (workshop/hostel), 11 medersas (Koranic schools) and 590 dwellings of great architectural value.

Imperial Cities Of Morocco

Main sights of interest :
  • Medersa Bou Inania (14th cent.), the largest and most decorated in town
  • Medersa Attarine
  • Mellah (Jewish quarter)
  • Karaouine Mosque
  • Foundouk Tsetaounine
  • Neijarine Complex (fondouk, fountain, joiners’s workshops and souks)
  • Zaouia Moulay Idriss (Mausoleum of Idriss II)
  • Royal Palace (to be found in all key cities of the country)
  • Entrance gates to the walled city : Bab Mahrouk, Bou Jeloud, Smarine and El Khoukha
  • Souks Attarine
  • Henna souk
  • Open-air tanneries

MEKNES, 51 km from Fes and 115 km from the capital Rabat, reminds of Marrakech with its large expanses of open space and numerous souks. The walled city was foundedin the 10th century A.D.

Medersa Bou Inania

Main sights of interest :
  • Medersa Bou Inania
  • Kouba Sidi Aïssa (mausoleum)
  • Moulay Ismail’s Mausoleum
  • Dar Jamaï (great house)
  • Agdal artificial lake
  • Dar el Ma with Moulay Ismail’s granaries and stables
  • Huge El Hedime square framed by the two access gates to the Medina, Bab Jema el Nouar and Bab Mansour marking the limit between the Medina and the Imperial City
  • Mellah (Jewish quarter)
  • Royal Palace
  • Entrance gates to the walled city : Bab Berdaine, El Khemis, Tizimi, es Reth and el Jedid

Imperial Cities Of Morocco

VOLUBILIS, 31 km north of Meknes, is the site of the most impressive Roman ruins in Morocco. It was already an important Berber village before becoming Roman in 40 A.D. At its heyday it harboured over 20000 inhabitants. It was occupied by Moulay Idriss the First at the end of the 8th century and was inhabited until the 18th century.

The main buildings are the Arch of Triumph (3rd century), the Basilica, the Capitol, palaces, houses and shops.

Imperial Cities Of Morocco

MOULAY-IDRISS, holy town closed to non-Muslims until 1911, is built on two green hills about 8 km from Volubilis and home to about 20000 inhabitants. The centre is closed to motor traffic.

The main attraction is the Horm, a mosque and the Mausoleum of Idriss, the first Muslim sultan, descendant of Ali, Mohammed’s son-in-law, who fled Mekka to the town to escape persecution by Baghdad’s Caliph.

Imperial Cities Of Morocco

Every year at the end of August  after the harvest a huge « moussem » (pilgrimage)takes place and it is said that attending it 7 times is the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Mekka.

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