Meknès,  the Moroccan “Versailles”

The great Alawite Sultan Moulay Ismail associated Meknes with his fate in 1672 and decided to make it the most beautiful of the imperial cities and the capital of the Kingdom.

Imperial city, Meknes knew its hour of glory in the 17th century during the reign of Moulay Ismaïl (l672-1727), monarch of the Alawite dynasty. Having chosen it as its capital, he built 40 kilometers long ramparts around its imperial city and its outstanding monuments: palaces, mosques, gardens, ponds, granaries, stables housing 12,000 horses, wheat silos, Which are still considered as great works. Example of Dar el-ma, the “palace of water”, with its immense vaulted silos of Moorish form.

It was made an impressive city, in the Hispano-Moorish style surrounded by high walls pierced with monumental doors,  in a harmonious mixture of the Islamic and European styles of the Maghreb of the 17th  century, which earned it the name “Versailles of Morocco” in the time of Louis the 14th  .
The splendor of The medina of Meknes come from its rich colors, medersas, squares and shops of craftsmen,  and souks largely  restored  to safeguard this heritage, witness of a glorious past.
The European city “Little Paris”, founded by the French at the beginning of the last century is also captivating through  its colonial typical arhitecture called Art Deco. The surrounding landscapes of Meknes are a prelude invitation to discover Moulay Idriss, with its whiteness contrasting with the vast ocher of the last foothills of the Rif and Volubilis, a Roman town with  houses dedicated to the works of Hercules,  Ephebeus , Procession of Venus, Dionysus and the Four Seasons or Orpheus, its capitol, its triumphal arch and its forum.
Meknes charming is everlasting .

History of Meknes

The city was founded in the 10th century under the name of Meknassa ez Zeitoun by Zenete Meknassa, a large Berber tribe originally from the Oriental side of the kingdom.
In the 8th century,  Meknes region saw the birth of the first dynasty of Morocco, the Idrissids (786-917, founded by Moulay Idriss the 1st, descendant of Prophet  Mohammed.

In the eleventh century, the Almoravids fortified the city conquered by the Almohads who built mosques, hammams (Moorish baths) and kasbahs there. Meknes then lived a period of prosperity which will be relayed by the rise of the Merinid dynasty.

A large set of monuments will also be built under the reign of this dynasty including a royal palace and the famous medersa Bou Inania.
After the Mrinids, succeeded the Ouatassids in the 15th century. The arrival of the Alawite dynasty marked a turning point in the history of Meknes. From 1672, Moulay Ismail associated Meknes with his destiny, and decided to make it the most beautiful of the imperial cities and the capital of Morocco.

Baptised  ” the Moroccan Louis the 14th “, for 50 years, he ordred  palaces, mosques, granaries, stables, basins, gardens and kasbahs to be built,  wiilling to give it an extraordinary status, and make it a worldwide capital recognized.
The walls surrounding the ancient city are dotted with majestic doors, richly carved and adorned with constellations (faience and mosaics). The gate of Bab Mansour is the largest and most beautiful of the Arab-Moorish buildings.

During the reign of his son, Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah (1757 – 1790), Meknes was dotted with several monuments: mosques, mausoleums and the palace of Dar Beida, present head quarters of the Royal Military Academy.
By enrolling Meknes on the list of the World Heritage of Humanity, U.n.e.s.c.o had in mind the formidable ossuary of walls and Palaces, that the city owes to the reign of the Sultan Moulay Ismail.

Historical Monuments

  • Bab Mansour, Place el Hedim
  • Grenier et écuries (Hri Souani Ou Roua)
  • Bassin Agdal (Sahriji Souani)
  • Palais Dar El Makhzen
  • Prison de Cara (Silos souterrains)
  • Koubat Al Khayatine (Salle des Ambassadeurs)
  • Bab El Khémis
  • Foundouk El Hanna
  • Le Haras
  • Ksar Mansour 
  • Mausolée Moulay Ismaïl
  • La Mosquée Nejjarine
  • La Grande Mosquée
  • Jamaâ Roua
  • Mausolée Cheikh El Kamel
  • Musée Dar Jamaî
  • Medersa Bouanania
  • Medersa Filalia
  • Place Lalla Aouda
  • Place Lahdim
  • Jardins Suspendus
  • Golf Royal
  • Jardins El Haboul
  • Vue Panoramique 
  • Volubilis
  • Moulay IDriss Zerhoune
  • Circuit «Chaîne de Zerhoune»


There are a hundred mosques in the city of Meknes, the oldest of which are:

Jamaa El kbir,  Lalla Ouda Mosque ,  Berdaïne Mosque ,  Zitouna Mosque , Najjarine Mosque, Jamaa Roua Mosque, Sidi Saïd Mosque , Khadra Mosque, Sidi Keddour el Alami Mosque

Places of Worship


  •        Notre Dame Church, Av. Mohammed V


  • Synagogue of quartier Riad
  • Synagogue de la rue Mohamed Meknassi «ex rue Ghana» Hamrya.

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