Meknes: the imperial capital of the Alawite dynasty

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Meknes: the imperial capital of the Alawite dynasty

Beautiful Meknes, in northern Morocco, is a 17th-century Hispano-Moorish-style city surrounded by high walls.

Only 150 kilometres separate the Moroccan capital from the historic city of Meknes, founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids, which in the 17th century became the capital of the Alawites. Located in the plain of Saïss, between the Middle Atlas and the Pre-Rif massif of Zerhoun, and so at the crossroads of trade routes, the city—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—contains the remains of the medina and the Imperial city founded by Sultan Moulay Ismail ben Cherif (1672-1727).

Behind the high walls that feature nine gates, Meknes boasts palaces, ten hammams, 25 mosques, vast granaries, vestiges of fondouks (hotels for traders), private homes, stables that can shelter 12,000 horses, and open-air water basins, all of which are proud testimonies of the Almoravid, Merinid, and Alawite dynasties. This princely planning also illustrates the specificities of the traditional adobe architecture, fashioned from a mixture of clay, sand, straw, and earth, which gives the city its special tone.

 

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