"The wisest men follow their own direction..." - Euripides
Day 08: 19 Nov 2012
FEZ – MEKNES – MARRAKESH
After breakfast, we started our journey towards Marrakesh via Meknes. Meknes is also known as “Moroccan Versailles” a city in Spanish-Moorish style, surrounded by high walls with great doors, where the harmonious blending of the Islamic and European styles of the 17th century Maghreb are still evident today The city was founded by Moulay Ismail in the 17th Century. The region is the major producer of Moroccan olives and citrus fruits.
Meknes is claimed to be among the most beautiful city in Morocco. Places of interest visited include Bab Mansour , mausoleum Moulay Ismail and the Old Meknes. Bab Mansour gate, named after the architect, El-Mansour was completed 5 years after Moulay Ismail's death, in 1732. The design of the gate plays with Almohad patterns. It has zellij mosaics of excellent quality. The marble columns were taken from the Roman ruins. The gate itself is now used as an arts and crafts gallery; entry is by a side gate.
Despite his extreme brutality, Moulay Ismail is highly revered by Moroccans themselves. So much, that his mausoleum is ranked as an Islamic sight and only parts of it are open to non-Muslims.
We visited the Pavillion Des Ambassadeurs and the underground prisons where tens of thousands, mainly Christian slaves kidnapped from European villages as far north as Iceland by Moroccan pirates, to work and die to complete the more than 50 palaces, the 20 gates and the city wall of 45 km long.
Lunch was at Qassar Al-Terrab Restaurant on the way to Marrakesh. It was already dark when we arrived in Marrakesh and went straight to the town square to have a glimpse of the vibrant night market. As it is too cold to stay in the open, the bus took us for dinner, entertained by live Moroccan musicians and belly dancing.
Later, we checked in Al-Andalous Hotel for two nights.