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Meknes

Our holidays to Meknes explore Morocco's understated Imperial City often overlooked by tourists due to the better known attractions of nearby Fez. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, it is a more manageable size than Fez, has a genuine medina, boasts a number of grand monuments and lovely gardens dating from the period when it was a capital city, and offers more reasonably priced riads than its neighbour.

It enjoys a wonderful position close to Fez between the Rif and the Middle Atlas mountain ranges and is linked by an excellent railway network with Casablanca and Marrakech to the south, and Tangier to the north.

Overview

The City

Meknes is a fascinating city straddling the river Boufekrane only 40 miles west of Fez; the medina and Imperial City lie on the west bank of the river and the Ville Nouvelle (new town) on the east.

Capital of Morocco for a period around 1700, it currently has a population of around 1 million and is a hassle-free city offering visitors many attractions including many structures giving a sense of its grand past: huge tombs, granaries and stables, gardens, lakes, mosques and much more. A range of accommodation in both the medina and the Imperial City is available; prices are lower than similar properties in Fez.

Weather

Meknes has a pleasant climate, with considerable variation over the year. Ground floor or air conditioned rooms are advised in July and August, and from November until January be sure to take warm clothes for the evenings.  Although rooms are heated, many of them are so lofty that it is hard to hear the room fully. April to November are the driest months.

 

Location

Meknes is located between the Rif mountains to the north and the Middle Atlas mountains to the south in the centre of the north of Morocco.

It is close to the international airport in Fez and is linked to other places of interest by the excellent train service and the good road network:

  • Fez, the unique Imperial city under 1 hour to the east;
  • Volubilis, the site of the largest and best preserved Roman ruins in Morocco, and nearby Moulay Idriss, one of the country's most important spiritual sites around 30 minutes’ drive north; and
  • Rabat, the Imperial city located on the Atlantic coast on the around 3 hours to the west on the train line heading eventually down to Marrakech.

Accommodation

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Riad Felloussia

Rating

> Destinations > Meknes

Riad Felloussia is a rustic and authentic riad with a lovely central courtyard and a large roof terrace overlooking the Place el Hedim and Bab Mansour. It has characterful rooms on the ground and first floors.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£45 per night, B&B Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

2** Classic Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Ryad Bahia

Rating

> Destinations > Meknes

Ryad Bahia is a charming riad set in the in the bustling heart of the medina. It is owned by an English-speaking couple who are experienced guides, and has an excellent restaurant and terraces with exceptional views.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£45 per night, B&B Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

2** Classic Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Riad Safir Meknes

Riad Safir

Rating

> Destinations > Meknes

Riad Safir is a superbly run, reasonably priced riad with a pretty roof terrace conveniently located close to the major sights and souks. It offers a range of activities including cookery lessons, excursions, hammam and guided tours.

Standard Double Guide Price:

£50 per night, B&B Information

Standard double room price for indication only. Prices may vary considerably by season and room. Special offer or discount for multiple nights may apply. Prices updated periodically and can be affected by exchange rate.

3*** Boutique Information

For details of classifications see Star Rating and Guide Price above.

Attractions

Things to do or see

In the city

  • The medina, developed under the reign of Moulay Ismail, when Meknes was the capital of the sultanate.  Today the medina is a central attraction for visitors, with large souks to explore, a central pedestrian square, Place el-Hedim, an atmospheric place to relax and watch Moroccan life, and the stunning Dar Jamai Palace, now housing a museum of art and set in superbly maintained gardens.
  • The Imperial City, accessed from the medina by the famous Bab el-Mansour, a grand gateway with beautiful mosaic, houses Moulay Ismail's huge granaries, stables that used to house over 12,000 horses, gardens, lakes and his ornate mausoleum which is open to non-Muslims.

Nearby

  • Volubilis, near Moulay Idriss, a UNESCO World Heritage site 25 miles to the north of Meknes. The well preserved Roman ruins of Volubilis are most notable for their mosaics, but also has several buildings of note.
  • Moulay Idriss, close to Volubilis, is a pretty town of whitewashed buildings in mountain foothills, and is an important site for Moroccans.  It has recently opened up to other visitors and has an interesting Saturday market.
  • Vineyards, which produce good quality wines, have been in the region on and off since Roman times and can be visited with prior arrangement.

 

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