Never heard of but need to visit to this place
Meknes is made up of the old (medina) and the new (ville nouvelle); two distinct centres less than three miles apart but harnessing quite different vibes. The medina holds the city’s historic sights and sought-after romantic flavour, while in the ville nouvelle you’ll find big houses, modern cars and branded takeaways.
What are the highlights of the medina?
You’ll find everything from specialist souks selling crafts and swathes of textiles, to knock-off trainers, souvenirs and carpets in the medina. At its heart is the twelfth-century Grand Mosque (although this is closed to non-Muslims), while teahouses in secret courtyards, ornate riads, and the odd hard-working donkey add to the atmosphere.
Look up to see sections of roofs that have recently been renovated with carved cedar wood panels, offering dappled shade along some of the covered alleyways.
If you’re in the mood for more shopping, head to the market sandwiched between the medina and old Mellah (the old Jewish quarter, worth a peek for its distinctive architecture). Juicy oranges, cart-loads of red chillies, dried grains and precariously stacked bowls of olives sit alongside everyday items such as kids’ toys, kitchen appliances and piles of underwear.
Most people begin exploring the medina from the Place el-Hedim – think of a smaller-scale Jemaa el Fna in Marrakesh, and you’ve got the idea. Grab a mint tea and watch the world go by to the soundtrack of Moroccan pop music blaring from competing vendors, then head into the medina via the entrance next to the Dar Jamai Museum.
What are the other main attractions?
Bab el-Mansour is a big hit with visitors, and for good reason. Completed in 1732, the gate is impressive not only for its size but its original green and white zellij tiles, marble columns and inscriptions from the Quran along the top.
The Dar Jamai Museum is worth the few dirhams’ entry for the interiors alone. What was once a palace built in the late nineteenth-century now displays not only dazzling rooms and doorways but also traditional crafts, including ceramics, jewellery, costumes and brass work. The eclectic collection is dotted around the building; just don’t miss the incredible tile work (not that you could) or the decorated dome ceiling on the first floor.