An easy visit from Meknes is the UNESCO world heritage site and ancient Roman city of Volubilis.
With origins dating back to the 3rd century BC the town was on the fringes of the Roman Empire’s reach.
Local tribes took over this region around the year 285 and it was never reclaimed by the Romans – most likely due to its remote location.
Volubilis was later abandoned around the 11th century and only rediscovered in the mid 18th century after which it was excavated (only about half of it has been uncovered to date) by the French during their rule in the country and the results included the finding of these amazingly well kept mosaics.
My group’s journey between Rabat and Chefchaouen was broken up with a night in Meknes and while there isn’t a whole lot to do here in the city itself, a few hours stay does still offer some interesting sites.
A long time ago a man by the name of Ismail Ibn Sharif reigned in this area of Morocco between the late 17th – early 18th centuries.
He was known for his unwavering brutality and for being quite the womaniser – he apparently fathered over 800 children in his lifetime.
A view of the entrance from inside and out
Today the Mausoleum of Mouley Ismail is the resting place for this sultan, also known as the ‘Warrior King’.
Visitors are welcome to see the interior of this beautiful example of traditional Moroccan architecture.
The entire mausoleum is filled with small courtyards and I am always impressed by the craftsmanship that goes into the mosaics in Moroccan buildings.
Not too far away is Sahrij Swani, an artifical lake which allegedly served many purposes from a backup supply of water for the town in the events of siege to simply being used by all of Mouley Ismail’s wives/concubines as a site for entertainment.
Now it is simply a peaceful area where you’ll find locals just hanging around but the size of it is quite impressive considering it’s basically in the centre of town.
Lastly, what’s a visit to a town in Morocco without seeing its medina?
Our driver taking a break while we explored
Meknes’ medina is not going to win out over the likes of the others in the country but it’s still worthy of a look into and perhaps have a meal.
We stopped by in the afternoon so I opted for a mint tea break and what I received truly delivered on its description!
I’ll end the post with a scene from my window driving out of Meknes.
Although the land is quite bare it was still strikingly beautiful to see the many shades of greens and yellows in the distance beyond the grazing sheep – it was a surprisingly scenic drive!