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Morocco - Rabat to Meknes - Day 3

Posted Oct 21 2011 6:01pm
 On arrival at Meknes we visited the Tomb of Moulay Ismail.  Moulay Ismail or Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif was the second ruler of the Alaouite dynasty.  He claimed to be a descendant of Muhammad and therefore earns the title 'Moulay'.  He ruled from 1672 to 1727 and was only 26 when he came to the throne of a country weakened by internal tribal wars and royal successions.  He established Meknes as his capital and it became known as the 'Versailles of Morocco'.  During his reign the capital moved to Fes.

Non Muslims have no access to the tomb itself but it can be seen through a Moorish doorway.  The anteroom is decorated with examples of Moroccan design - zellij tiling, enamel painted wood, elaborately carved plaster, graceful arches and marble columns....





We then visited the Granaries, also built by Ismail Moulay.  The granary was built on a reservoir that were designed to be able to store grain to feed the 12,000 horses he owned.  No mean feat, but it was big enough to not only feed them, but feed them for 20 years, which gives you an idea of just how big the storage tunnels are.  To store this amount of grain, the temperatures needed to be even, so the walls were very thick, and a suspended forest was grown on the roof.  Water from the reservoir below was forced through ducts in the floor to maintain a low temperature and to keep the grain from rotting.   


These are the stables where the Sultan kept his 12,000 horses.  The Sultan had great respect for horses, even more than he did for his human counterparts.  His horses were apparently waited on hand and foot with a groom and slave for each horse to ensure that all their needs were met.  The stables were kept in immaculate condition.

Today the stables are in ruin, and due to an earthquake during the 18th Century, the roof of the stables no longer provides protection.  There is a canal that ran fresh water through the stables constantly, so the horses never lacked clean water.



After the visit to the stables and the granary - we checked into our Riad.  This is where we were welcomed with hot mint tea and some yummy cookies.  This is Anne in the lounge...

 We were upgraded to the royal suite because of a lack of power in the room we had booked.  We had a very nice room on the first floor up the berber elevator! (lots of spiral steps)
 Looking down into the reception area from the hallway just outside our door....
 Jeffrey and Liang then went and booked into a more upmarket Riad just round the corner from us.  It was incredibly beautiful.  Anne and I went to visit...
 Their palatial lounge...
 We then went out walking to the Meknes Market...
 Lots of sweet cookies...
 A Chameleon for sale...
 Spices...
 Olives and olives and olives...
 The meat market - that's a stomach hanging there on the right...
 The vendor stacking up his olives to a nice display...
 We then went to the Musee Dar Jamai.   Before housing the Meknès collections, the Dar Jamai had a number of different uses. Built in 1882 to be the residence of the illustrious Jamai family, which included two of Moulay el-Hassan's ministers (1873-1894), it was used as a military hospital after 1912, only becoming the Museum of Moroccan Art in 1920. 


There was a sign 'No Photos', but the security guard went Shhhh!  He then lifted the barriers, encouraged Anne and I to lie down and took some photos.  We of course had to tip him.  We felt very special until Jeffrey explained he did it to his mother as well (as well as all the tourists that go through there!!!)


Moroccan shoes at a market stall in the Medina.

 Scenes of the Medina....




We had a bit of a rest in the afternoon, then we headed out to Volubilis, the site of an ancient roman city.  Got there at perfect time for the most wonderful light for photography...














On the way back to Meknes, we stopped at a little village called Moulay Idriss and wandered around the market.  I was allowed to go this far to take photos of the men being called to prayer at the local mosque.



We headed back to Meknes where we had a beautiful Moroccan dinner at Jeffrey and Liangs Riad.  Really enjoying such good company, and having both fun and interesting times in Morocco.
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