The hillside hamlet of Moulay Idriss


Although Moulay Idriss is an important religious site in northern Morocco, what I loved the most is the way the town tumbles down two hills and how, traversing a winding labyrinth of alleys that lead to spectacular vantage points from the top, it appears that life in this picturesque little hamlet hasn’t changed for centuries.

The town is the final resting place of Morocco’s religious and secular founder, Moulay Idriss el Akhbar, a decendent of the Prophet Muhammad who brought Islam to Morocco. It is said that five pilgrimages to Moulay Idriss are the spiritual equivalent of one to Mecca, earning it the nickname the poor man’s Mecca.  Until 2005, non-muslims were not allowed to spend the night in town.

Here, as in many other hillside settlements where space is tight, the humble donkey is the only way of getting things up or down the hill.

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Moulay Idriss is an easy day trip from the Imperial city of Meknes and close to the Roman ruins at Volubilis, an archeological UNESCO World Heritage site.
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11 thoughts on “The hillside hamlet of Moulay Idriss

      • We’ve had a vast improvement in South African over the years after Valli Moosa declared them South Africa’s “national flower” because they were everywhere next to the roadside and they are no longer given away free. I really liked the Moroccan cloth ones though. I recycled them back home too – they make great vacuum cleaner filter bags because they breathe while collecting dust 🙂

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      • We have to pay for them here too – really they should be banned unless biodegradable. I used to like the brown paper bags we got when shopping in SA. You had to be careful with the weight though 🙂

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  1. The brown paper bags you’re talking about don’t exist anymore. I know you used to get them at OK Bazaars years ago for example. Plastic bags took over completely. Nowadays the food markets give you brown paper bags but a couple of jars of preserves in there or a bunch of carotts and you do risk the bottom falling out of the bag. I really liked the Moroccan cloth ones and they are lightweight and fold up easily.

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  2. It’s unusual to see plastic carrier bags actually – they have been outlawed in Morocco and many of the bags you are given are fabric – a kind of cheap felt. You had to be careful with the weight though 🙂

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    • Yes I saw very few plastic bags across Morocco. I really liked the fabric ones although they were often quite small. They make excellent vacuum cleaner filters by the way – I recycled all of mine that way 😉

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  3. I used to like the brown paper bags we got when shopping in SA. It’s unusual to see plastic carrier bags actually – they have been outlawed in Morocco and many of the bags you are given are fabric – a kind of cheap felt.

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