Red walls, Moorish architecture, and historical museums are arguably the best way to describe the imperial city of Meknes. Its lush valleys and blissful winds give the city its unique charm. Getting immersed in its maze of alleys and mysterious ruins is the best way to know Meknes.
The city's amazing culinary scene also makes it a hub for tourists worldwide, thanks to its fresh Moroccan dishes. Here are the 8 top-rated activities to enjoy in Meknes.
8 Admire The Mausoleum Of Moulay Ismail
The sacred mausoleum features a spectacular interior with decorated backyards that lead to the sanctuary where the locals buried the Sultan. To most visitors' delight, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail is one of the few religious sites where non-Muslims are allowed. Although only Muslims are permitted into the actual tomb, the shrine is visible from the anteroom with its eye-catching plasterwork and zellij mosaics.
- Location: At the Centre of Meknes Old Town
- Cost: Free
- Recommendation: Modest dressing is advised since it is a religious site
7 Discover The Mysterious Habs Qara
Although rumors vary as to the duration of its use, The Habs Qara is believed to be an underground prison built for over 6,000 slaves. A majority of the slaves were political dissidents and Christian prisoners of war who also helped construct the underground quarters. Visitors are guaranteed to get goosebumps as they descend the eerie steps to underground chambers. Habs Qara prison is one of the most interesting places in Meknes.
- Location: Ismaili Qasba, Meknes
- Cost: $1 or 10 Dirhams
- Recommendation: Tailor's Pavillion, Bab Filala, and the Royal Stables
6 Take Pictures At The Bab El-Mansour Gateway
Built in the 18th century as a tribute to Sultan Moulay's rule, travelers always stop to marvel at this famous monument rich in a cocktail of architectural designs and patterns. 16 meters high and 8 meters wide, the gate is adorned with green and white zellij tiles. The gate also has three keyhole-looking arches and columns said to be looted from Volubilis and El Badi Palace
- Location: Walls of Medina, El Hedim Square
- Cost: Free
- Recommendations: Shop for souvenirs at El Hedim Square
5 Tour Around Town In A Majestic Caleche
For tourists who share Sultan Moulay's love for horses, a tour in a horse-drawn carriage is the best way to have a memorable experience in Meknes. Known as Caleche by the locals, horse-drawn carriages act as an excellent alternative to the conventional taxi rides in the street. Thanks to the fabulous curtains and awnings, all the carriages look like they are straight from a fairy tale. This fabulous work of art makes it perfect for a romantic experience.
- Location/Route: Through Medina City Gates and across famous landmarks
- Cost: $10 or 100 Dirhams per hour
- Recommendation: Take a night group tour for a refined experience
4 Marvel At The Beauty Of The Dar Jamai Museum
Also known as the Museum of Moroccan art, the museum was previously a Century historic palace and residence of the Jamai Family until 1920. Inside, the Andalusia-style pavilion radiates an enchanting ambiance. The museum's richness in culture is a haven for history lovers eager to learn about Morocco's past cultures, language, and architecture. Expect to be amazed by the museum's display of artifacts like cooking utensils, carpets, clothes, and carvings belonging to Sultan Moulay Ismail.
- Location: Place El Hedime
- Cost: Free entry, $14 a night in nearby hotels
- Recommendation: Dar Meknes Tresor, Riad Safir, and Riad Yacout
3 Sample Moroccan Dishes In Restaurants
Foodies love to explore what every city has to offer, and Meknes doesn't fall short when it comes to cuisine. Local restaurants offer tantalizing meals like tangine, pastille, and couscous that make visitors' mouths start to water even before they have a seat. For a world-class dining experience, the Bistrot Art & Le Wine bar provides a comprehensive menu of French dishes and floor-to-ceiling windows that give tourists a splendid view of the beautiful Meknes.
- Location: Rue Haroun Errachid, Marrakech
- Hours open: 12 P.M. to 1 A.M
- Recommended: Bistrot Art & Le Wine Bar
Year after year, tourists flock to this well-preserved archeological site north of Meknes. Volubilis is littered with private houses containing preserved mosaic floors and historical treasures such as the Decumanus Maximus or the Triumphal Arch of Caracalla. While walking through the ruins, it's impossible to believe the Roman City has been up and strong for about 24 centuries.
- Location: Fes-Meknes
- Cost: $12 or 120 Dirhams
- Recommendation: Book a visit in the mornings or evenings to avoid the blistering heat of the area
1 Quench Your Curiosity At The Royal Stables
Located a bit far from the city center, the ruins of the Royal Stables are worth the visit. As the name suggests, the place housed over 12,000 horses, much so to the taste of Sultan Moulay Ismail, who was fond of horses. The city was built to rival Versailles in architecture, making its vastness in structure almost impossible to comprehend. The now-ruined stables serve as a beautiful granary for fodder and grains.
- Location: Near Agdal Basin, Meknes
- Cost: 70 Dirhams, local cash only
- Recommendation: Ibin Meknes Hotel, Riyad Yacout, and Riad Mama H & K