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Meknes is a city in northern Morocco, located 130 kilometres (81 mi) from the capital Rabat and 60 kilometres (37 mi) from Fes.It is served by the A2 expressway between those two cities and by the corresponding railway.Meknes was the capital of Morocco under the reign of Moulay Ismail (1672–1727), before it was relocated to Marrakech.The population is 985,000 (2010 census).It is the capital of the Meknes-Tafilalet region.Meknes is named after a Berber tribe which was known as Miknasa (native Berber name: Imeknasen) in the medieval North African sources.

The original community from which Meknes can be traced was an 8th century Kasbah.A Berber tribe called the Miknasa, originated from the Tunisian south, settled there in the 9th century, and a town consequently grew around the previous borough.The Almoravids founded here a fortress in the 9th century. It resisted to the Almohads rise, and was thus destroyed by them, only to be rebuilt in larger size with mosques and large fortifications.Under the Merinids it received further madrasas, kasbahs and mosques in the early 14th century, and continued to thrive under the Wattasid dynasty.Meknes saw its golden age as the imperial capital of Moulay Ismail following his accession to the Sultanate of Morocco (1672–1727).He installed under the old city a large prison to house Christian sailors captured on the sea, and also constructed numerous edifices, gardens, monumental gates, mosques (whence the city's nickname of "City of the Hundred Minarets") and the large line of wall, having a length of 40 km.

According to the ICOMOS Heritage at Risk report of 2000, the historic city of Meknes contains insufficient drainage systems, and as a result suffers from inundation and leakage in certain areas.Neighboring cities to the south: Azrou, connecting via the N13 road, is a cedar region with the noted "College d'Azrou" where many members of the post-independence elite derived); and Ifrane (Al Akhawayn University).Located near the Atlas Mountains, Meknes has a seasonal climate, shifting from cool in winter to hot days in the summer months of July–September.The nights are always cool (or colder in winter), with daytime temperatures generally rising about 10–14 °C (50–57 °F) every day. The winter highs typically reach only 15.5 °C (60 °F) in December–January.

The ville nouvelle (new town), which is known as Hamrya in Arabic, is easily navigated on foot, as is the medina.The two sides of town are connected by a bridge over the dry Oued Boufekrane (river), with a McDonald's placed conveniently in between for weary (or wary!) travelers.Hamrya is a new town with all entertainment facilities, You can find all what you need there, but there is no monuments or things to see except if you like to chat with people. Medina is the other side is the ancient Meknes and it contains all the monuments of this wonderful city.

How to Reach

By Train

There are two train stations, the smaller train station called El-Emir Abdelkader is more centrally located in the new town (ville nouvelle), while the other is a bit further east. Meknes is connected by train to most major cities like Marrakech (6h, 174 Dh), Tangier (3–4h, 85 Dh), Rabat (2h, 65Dh), Casablanca, Fes (1h) or Oujda (6h, 130 Dh).Specific times and prices can be found on the website of the Moroccan National Office for Railways.

By Bus

The main bus station (Gare Routiere) is west of the medina, colocated with the main grand taxi station, while CTM has its own, brand new station, near Meknes train station (east of the new town). For trips to Marrakesh be advised, that while seemingly shorter on the map, the mountain route via Beni Millal takes at least 2 hours more than on the highway via Rabat and Casa, going there by train is the most comfortable option, although buses might be slightly quicker.

By Taxi

Grand taxis arrive and leave from several places, the most popular being El-Amir Abdelkader train station and to the left of the main bus station.Opposite the road of the Institute Francais is also a quite large taxi rank.

Key places to visit
Dar El Makhzen Palace, Bab Mansour Gate, Dar Jamai Palace, Meknes Royal Golf Course, Volubilis


Places to Visit

Dar El Makhzen Palace

located in El Mechouar Stinia. It is sided by a 2 km-long corridor formed by two large walls.It was Moulay Ismaïl's official palace.Recently redone with new brickwork, this square once rivaled Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech but is now significantly less exciting (though there are a few nice cafes and snack spots in which to people-watch).

Bab Mansour Gate

Named after the architect, El-Mansour, a Christian renegade who converted to Islam.It was completed 5 years after Moulay Ismail's death, in 1732.The design of the gate plays with Almohad patterns.It has zellij mosaics of excellent quality.The marble columns were taken from the Roman ruins of Volubilis.When the structure was finished completed, Moulay Ismail inspected the gate, asking El-Mansur if he could do better.El-Mansur felt complied to answer yes, making the sultan so furious he had him executed.Still, according to historical records, the gate was finished after Moulay Ismail's death.The gate itself is now used as an arts and crafts gallery; entry is by a side gate.

Dar Jamai Palace

Now a museum this old palace is located at the back of Place Hedim.It now houses the Museum of Moroccan Arts, which is currently exhibiting artifacts, jewels, and old copies of the Qur'an.Dar Jamai is a gorgeous museum with exqusite gardens on the outside.A must visit place for Lovely museum.

Meknes Royal Golf Course

This place is absolutely marvellous.The gardens are beautifully kept and it is entirely surrounded by palace walls.They have opened it to the public since September 2007 so now it's possible to slip in to have a peek.There is also a public cafe on the grounds.It's possible to eat on the terrace overlooking the course but you need to book in advance.


Volubilis is an archaeological site in Morocco situated near Meknes between Fez and Rabat along the N13 road.The nearest town is Moulay Idriss.Volubilis features the best preserved Roman ruins in this part of northern Africa.In 1997 the site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.Volubilis was the administrative center of the province in Roman Africa called Mauretania Tingitana.The fertile lands of the province produced many commodities such as grain and olive oil, which were exported to Rome, contributing to the province's wealth and prosperity.Archaeology has documented the presence of a Jewish community in the Roman period.

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