The city of Meknes in Morocco is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the years of its prosperity, when it was the capital of Morocco, this city turned into the "Moroccan Versailles" and today we will take a virtual trip to this amazing place

City of Meknes in Morocco | Virtual tour

In the history of Morocco, there were 4 capitals: Fes, Marrakech, Rabat, and Meknes. The city of Meknes did not occupy the capital position for long: from 1673 to 1727, but it was then that it turned into the “Moroccan Versailles”. Today, Meknes is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, and this virtual tour is dedicated to it.

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The first settlement on this site appeared in the 8th century under the name Kasbah – "fortress". After 200 years, the city was captured by a tribe of Berbers, known as "Miknasa", which gave it a new name. In the 11th century, the Almoravid dynasty turned Meknes into their military fortification, and this city became the capital under the Alaouite dynasty. One of the sultans, Moulay Ismail ibn Sherif, began to build magnificent buildings here, forever providing Meknes with the status of an architectural miracle.

Like other ancient cities of Morocco, Meknes is divided into Old (medina) and New parts. Wanting to protect the city from Berber attacks, Moulay Ismail ordered the medina to be surrounded by a ten-kilometer wall. Its entrance gate Bab Mansour is considered the most beautiful in Morocco.

City of Meknes in Morocco | Virtual tour
City of Meknes in Morocco | Virtual tour

The heart of the medina is El Hedim Square. During the time of the legendary Sultan, it was used as a place for the announcement of the decrees of the emir and public executions, and now it is a popular vacation spot for citizens and tourists.

Another square in the Old City, Lalla Aouda, is known for its “royal” mosque: here is the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail. The ruler conceived its construction during his lifetime and invited the best craftsmen for this. So the building became not only a tomb, but also an excellent example of Islamic architecture and design. The courtyard is decorated with mosaics, carvings and fountains, the floor is covered with luxurious carpets, and in the back of the hall you can see the genealogical tree of the Alawites. The mausoleum is a sacred place, rare in Morocco, where people are allowed, regardless of their religion.

Next to Lalla Aouda and the mausoleum is another amazing complex of buildings – the pavilion of Kubat al-Khayatine (Koubat al-Khayatine), where Moulay Ismail received foreign ambassadors. Below it is the underground prison of Qara, from which, according to rumors, no one came out alive. These buildings, like most others in Meknes, were designed to demonstrate the greatness and power of Morocco.

Lalla Aouda Square (Meknes, Morocco | Virtual tour)
Lalla Aouda square |

At the southern borders of the Old City lies the majestic Khery es Souani complex. The granary, stables and reservoir occupy a total of 1,4 hectares.

Unlike the historical buildings of the medina, the grain warehouse is not decorated with decorative details: the builders' task was only to create a safe place, and they coped with it. The building, 180 meters long and 70 meters wide, could accommodate a five-year supply of grain for the army. And thanks to the walls 4 meters thick, even on the hottest days, the air temperature inside does not rise above 18 °C.

Attached to the back is a stable for 12000 horses and camels. Today it looks like a forest of columns and arches: the roof collapsed over time or from earthquakes.

And finally, a water tank with dimensions of 300 by 140 meters and a depth of 3 meters not only supplied the city with water, but was also a resting place for wealthy people, and the soldiers learned to swim in it. These and many other testimonies of the past are united by UNESCO in the common object "Historic City of Meknes".

Heri es Souani Stables (Meknes, Morocco | Virtual tour)
Stables of Heri es Souani |
Kheri es Souani Water Tank (Meknes, Morocco | Virtual Tour)
Water tank of Heri es Souani |

Since we are in Morocco, let's visit the natural corners: in Africa, these are deserts. In the southeast of the country is Erg Chebbi – one of the two largest ergs of the Sahara.

Erg Chebbi desert at sunset, near Merzouga village (Meknes in Morocco | Virtual tour)
Erg Chebbi desert at sunset near Merzouga village |

"Erg" is the Arabic name for the large sandy massifs of North Africa. Translated from Arabic, it means dune sea or sandy sea. Ergi consist of dunes and dunes, but there are very few or no plants there.

Erg Chebbi stretches for 22 km from north to south and 5 km from west to east. It is located in the middle of a flat, rocky desert, and the sand is in constant motion: smaller dunes move along the flanks of large dunes and sand ridges, some of which reach a height of 150 meters! Colorful accumulations of sand of bright orange color are extremely picturesque.

Get to know Morocco: its ancient history and the silent song of the desert.

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Meknes, Morocco

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