Morocco: West Atlas
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours
 
       
  Morocco flag Western Atlas: Meknes  
       
  City Wall, Meknes, Morocco City Wall, Meknes, MoroccoMeknes is the most laidback of the former Imperial Capitals. The districts of Meknes mirror its history. The oldest section is the walled medina filled with townhouses and souks (markets). Its basic footprint today dates back to about the 10th century when the town developed to service the broad surrounding agricultural community. The 'Imperial City', grand gates and protective wall are the product of Moulay Ismail, the second emperor of the Alaouite Dynasty, and one of Morocco greatest and most despotic leaders. He made Meknes the capital when he came to power in 1672, and reigned for 55 years (until 1727). Construction of the royal complex, as envisioned, still wasn't completed at the time of his death. The town returned to its agrarian roots when the capital was moved to Marrakech in 1755. Wall, Meknes, Morocco

 

       
    Meknes, MoroccoMeknes, MoroccoThe next big change to Meknes didn't come for over 150 years, when in 1912, the French Protectorate made Meknes its military headquarters and developed modern Meknes Nouvelle across the river from the medina and Imperial City.  
       
  Medina, Meknes, Morocco Place el-Hedim, Meknes, MoroccoPlace el-Hedim, Meknes, MoroccoCentrally located, between the medina, the Mellah (old Jewish quarter) and the Imperial City, is Place el-Hedim. In many ways, it is a miniature of the huge square, Djemaa El-Fna, of Marrakech: It is lined with caf├ęs, restaurants as shops, and in the plaza there are assorted vendors, families and groups of young people.

Also similar to Marrakech, there are horse-drawn carriages for hire.

Horse carriage, Meknes, Morocco
       
  Bab Mansour, Meknes, Morocco Facing Place el Hedim and protecting the Imperial City, is the most impressive of the gate in Meknes' Imperial City, Bab Mansour. It was not finished until 1732, five years after Moulay Ismail's death. It is named after the architect who designed it. Like is so frequently the case in Morocco, the marble columns were taken from another location, in this case from the nearby Roman ruins of Volubilis. It is an early example of recycling and repurposing. It might have been economical and expedient for Meknes, but it reeked havoc on the integrity and heritage of Volubilis. Bab Mansour, Meknes, Morocco
       
    Garden, Imperial City, Meknes, MoroccoWall, Imperial City, Meknes, MoroccoThrough the gates and inside the royal enclosure the grounds are very spacious. There are large gardens -- and even larger parking lots that probably did exist in the 18th century.

The enclosure is also divided into sections by additional interior walls and gates.

Interior gate, Imperial City, Meknes, Morocco
       
  Doorways, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco Exterior, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco Courtyard, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco Courtyard and fountain, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco Burial room, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco

The finest building, that the public has access to in the royal complex in Meknes, is the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail. After you enter, it is a long walk through several somber, aesthetically pleasing, relatively austere halls, and courtyards, past fountains and side rooms, designed to calm you, and let you transition before you reach the lavish, formal, ornately finished burial room fit for a king. The total coverage, floor to ceiling craftsmanship, includes the best of Moroccan carpet weaving, tile work, and plaster carving.

Carpets, Burial room, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco
  Courtyard and fountain, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco Grave, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco Tile work, burial room, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco Carved plaster ceiling, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco Carved plaster ceiling, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco Arabic script, Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco
       
    Medina, Meknes, Morocco Medina, Meknes, Morocco Medina, Meknes, Morocco Medina, Meknes, Morocco  
    Typical of the older, urban, residential areas in other Moroccan cities, the streets in the older residential districts of Meknes are narrow and intimate.

On the outskirts of Meknes, the traffic circles are ringed with flags, often Moroccan flags, but this one (right) is festooned with flags of nations of the world.

 Traffic circle with international flags, Meknes, Morocco
       
    Moulay Idress  
       
  BBQ restaurant row, Boufekrane, Meknes, MoroccoBBQ restaurant row, Boufekrane, Meknes, MoroccoHeading south across the plains from Meknes, after passing the expressway, is Boufekrane. There may be more to it than meets the eye, but what meets the eye is a long strip of restaurants far in excess of what would seem to be local demand. The restaurant primarily serving roasted meat and tajine. This must be the magic hunger zone for those traveling from the coast to Ifrane or across the Atlas. Logging truck, Boufekrane, Meknes, Morocco
       
  Ait Sebaa, Fes-Ifrane, Morocco Grape vineyard, El Hajeb, MoroccoCountryside, El Hajeb, MoroccoCountryside, El Hajeb, MoroccoBeyond the city and towns, the countryside is a patchwork of cultivated fields, with the occasional small village. The crops include grapes, wheat, corn, beans, fruit orchards and assorted other grains and vegetable. Orchard, Fes-Ifrane, Morocco
       
    Monument with Berber script and crane, El Hajeb, MoroccoAt the edge of the fertile plains is the small town of El Hajeb. El Hajeb is built on ledges at the foot of the hills and split into a couple sections on different levels. The most notable feature of El Hajeb is a monument. The most notable features of the monument are the storks living on top and the dominate script on the column is Berber. The narrative description on the stones at the base of the monument are in Arabic and has dates of 1793, 1973 and 2005.  
    Parc National d'Ifrane, MoroccoParc National d'Ifrane, MoroccoParc National d'Ifrane, Morocco

East of the plains is the Moyen (Middle) Atlas. On a long section of the 30-kilometer slopes, on the mountains, between el Hajeb and Ifrane, is the Parc National d'Ifrane. If you are heading the right direction (west) it is a very pleasant bike ride -- in the opposite direction, not so much so.

 
       
   

Maamora West Atlas

 
       
     
       
 

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