Although Meknes is overshadowed by Morocco’s other Imperial cities, it’s an amazing place to visit, just to experience the excesses of Moulay Ismail as 17th century governor and Sultan.
A contemporary and admirer of France’s Louis XIV, Ismail set about building an imperial city to rival the Palace of Versailles.
Reputedly a ruthless tyrant with a harem of hundreds of wives and concubines with whom he fathered hundreds of children, I’m in awe that he had time to realise his grandiose plan, which included 24 royal palaces with mosques, barracks and ornamental gardens, all set within defensive walls
The massive Heri el Souani granary – which also served as a feed store for the adjoining Royal Stables for 12,000 steeds – is an architechtural wonder. Standing inside these immense vaults (beautifully preserved and restored) is breathtaking and humbling.
It was raining when we visited, so I didn’t venture beyond this door leading from the granary complex to the stables, but the arches of the stables can be seen in the background.
To end off this incredible experience in Meknes? A camel burger in a crowded, muddy souk, while my trainers stayed behind at the Hotel Oasis Tafilalet to dry after the downpour in Rabat. The countryside surrounding Meknes is green and beautiful and ….. there’s a wine region here 🙂