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Meknes: guided tours, city excursions, daytrips, riads

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Meknes short breaks:

Surrounded by some 40 km of lime-and-earth walls, Meknes is unjustly eclipsed by the other cities namely Fez .The city expressed a full military obsession of its founder to withstand all sorts of marauding invaders. This unparalleled technology talks about Morocco’s glory and prosperity that it did know at that time .We, however, tend to forget with reviled feeling these unique excesses: the last golden age to date, still impresses more than the inhuman and cruel deeds of the rulers.
The city has known ups and downs and seemingly, today, is trying to keep up alongside with Fez and Marrakech as the most authentic and fascinating imperial cities.
From here, the visitor can go on a side trip to explore the ancient Romans ‘ farthest flung capital of Volubilis or the first Islamic shrine of Moulay Idriss in Morocco. Both sites are fundamental keys to an understanding of Moroccan history.

GENERAL TIPS:

1. When you arrive at airport [Fes/ Casablanca] get some change before you ask for a taxi transfer’s prizes in case Moroccan Skies is not in charge of this service.
2. For those who plan to stay in Morocco a bit longer, buy a cheap mobile phone for local and national calls.
3. The daytime can be very hot and we would recommend bringing something cool and light to use as a cover up to stop your skin from blistering! For evenings out in Marrakech bring a long (but light) pair of pants or skirt in case it is cold. We would say a smart jacket or cardigan is also essential for warmth on cooler nights
4. Bring an extra suitcase, in case you decide to purchase a famous Moroccan room-size rug or other items in the busy souks of the cities.

MEKNES’s BEST VIEWS

•    A day trip to the middle Atlas, this little range is quite rewarding and awesome and offers some stunning views.
•    Middle Atlas Mountains, outside fantastic drive away to Ifrane, Sefrou, Azrou beautiful alpine resorts with some skiing in winter.
•    A day trip to Moulay Driss shrine for some spiritual experience amongst the hilly whitewashed village.
•    A day trip To Volubilis roman ruins to explore Morocco’s greatest site.
•    For some relaxing massage in the hot baths of Moulay Yaacoub.
•    Stables and horse riding trainings of international standards on the back of some Arab or Berber stallion.

WHERE TO PLAY

1.    Cooking Workshops and before that an expedition into local markets.
2.    Ethno art shop, around the souks and alleyways where craftsmen Damaskina and the Franciscan nuns’ embroidery workshops   thrive…undoubtedly the best creations.
3.    The souks, a stage for some voices, actions and smells.
4.    Moulay Ismail mausoleum, the 17th century sanctuary architectural masterpiece
5.    Hammams and some scrub in a traditional way
6.    Hri swani, the stables and the water pool of the Hdim area.
7.    The Mellah or Jewish quarter, the sole synagogue still in function
8.    Morocco’s most impressive mud brick and adobe walls surrounding the old city of Meknes.
9.    Sip mint tea at Bab Mansour gate in front of La Place Hdim, a hive of activity and a great place to sit and people watch.
10.  Meknes best museum is Dar Jamai where some of the finest collections are preserved.

FAMILIES

•    Appreciate the Merrenids architecture at its best at the Great Mosque and the Medersa Bouaanania’s water clock.
•    Berdaine Souks for some wander around the spice place and discovery of the traditional medicine.
•    The village of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun and the biggest shrine in the country, where Idriss II is buried, a revered person who is accredited some great respect that some thousands of visitors express every day.
•    The Tanneries are most sought-for place for its fascinating feel despite the smells and horrible stories woven around the whole area.
•    The Medersa Bouaanania is certainly the finest theological college for its intricate works and elaborate skills still in function until today.
•    Around the Royal palace and a stunning gate in front of a collection of golf course, schools, gardens with gates of beautiful architecture.
•    The fascinating Jewish cemetery is amongst the few reminders of the Jewish existence in Morocco and in Meknes.

ROMANCE

•    Meknes is beautiful at night. Definitely it is worth taking pictures of the gates and, if possible, to walk around! The best in Meknes is to rent one of those horse drawn Calèches and tour the city ramparts and main outskirts by night.

•    After dusk, the Hdim square and gate come alive with musicians playing drums, mandolins, flutes and a variety of other instruments. In particular, listen to a performance of story tellers and many local styles; watch the outdoor restaurant impressive ambiance and sip mint tea or go for a budget diner.

•    Get lost in the maze of shops at the Meknes Souks. A great shopping experience in the meandering alleyways of the medina! Be prepared to bargain, bargain hard and bargain with a smile. Take a handful of sweets to hand out to the children, and you will endear yourself to one and all. Great shopping opportunities wait for you.

•    Escape the bustle of the Medina and take a trip to the surrounding small towns of Ifrane, Sefrou or even Moulay Yaacoub. The Berber Valleys of the Middle Atlas Mountains are only about one hour drive from the city and you will find yourself amidst stunning villages, spectacular scenery and very welcoming people.

•    A walk through the Medina of Meknes (old town) is a must. It’s probably the only way to explore the true Moroccan culture. It’s best to start at a fixed point in the Medina, such as one of the main gates, and head to one of the main sites, such as the Qarawiyin mosque, so that you can ask people for directions while also exploring

•    Wander at sunset time amidst the Roman ruins of Volubilis with some stunning views of the surrounding fertile plains for some travel back into one of Morocco’s best sites.

•    Rejuvenate in the calm location at a Moulay Yaacoub Spa. The hot bath / spa is an absolutely magnificent place where to relax—some of them offer very professional services.

How to Get Around

•    Get a certified and licensed city guide to show you around, explain properly the cultural sides of your tour and serve as a shield against the hustles of the market place vendors.
•    The Petit Taxis have meters but the drivers tend to forget using them with tourists. It is always good to negotiate the price in advance, but keep in mind that at night, the prices are 50% more than during the day
•    On a family trip get a Calèches, horse drawn cart to take you around in the most pleasant way throughout the alleyways and corners of the city wall.

SPECIAL EVENTS

•    The Fes world music festival bills itself as a major cultural event with an international cast from all corners of the world as well as Morocco. Performances are held in outdoor venues as well indoor ones offering a very special ambiance.
•    Moulay Driss Zerhoun festival
•    Festival de la culture Berbère and the Bedouin music festival when nomads come from different countries.

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