It was a dreadful afternoon when we visited Meknes, Fes' sister city. The sun was acting like my mom when she found out I broke her antique vase and hid the shattered pieces under the wardrobe: unforgiving. I was drenched in my own sweat like a pickled gherkin, I was constantly thirsty, and the dusty wind harassed my eyes.
Okay fine, I was being a prick for complaining while traveling. I should be enjoying the moment cheerfully. But I was in pain, a great pain... A self-inflicted pain; I have no thigh gap and I wore a skirt without spandex!… dunn dunn dunnn… O come on, those of you who have the same problem would understand me, and those who don’t, well, aren’t you just lucky!
The thing is, when your left and right thighs acting like BFF inseparable buddy-buddy, they tend to rub against each other when you walk and it hurts, especially when it’s hot and you’re sweaty. Your inner thighs become sticky, the friction between them every time you take a step can be extremely uncomfortable. It can even cause blisters and uncurable bad mood.
I also happen to have a funny way of walking. Mom calls it the penguin walk (which she believes that I got it from my dad’s side of the family). I walk with my left and right foot heading to opposite directions. So imagine this, with that inherent funny walk, I had to make my steps wider to the side so that my thighs didn’t rub too much against each other while wearing a cute knee-length skirt, checking out the city of Meknes….
Very chic..... Not.
Meknes, a humble city despite the great history the city has held for centuries, is located around 60 Km from Fes. Meknes has had its moment of glory; it was once the capital of Morocco in the 16th century.
Many tourists and even the locals are blissfully unaware of this historical city, which is a shame. This city has everything essential to entertain visitors (although in a smaller scale compared to Fes). The city is very laid-back and the people are way friendlier. They are mostly busy minding their own business, living in this awesome historical old town like it’s no biggy, they (almost) don’t care about tourists, in a good and friendly way though. No hassling touts, no jostling crowds. The kind of city I wish all the other Moroccan ones could be a bit more like, frankly.
We hired a local guide to show us around and tell us the history behind the (almost) forgotten city of Meknes. His name was Omar. Yes, I remember our guide’s name this time because his name reminds me of the french word for lobster, "Homard"...
Here are the highlights of Meknes that we visited:
Omar claims that Bab Mansour is the most beautiful gate in Morocco. Well, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Bab Mansour is enormous and heavily decorated with detailed mosaics. It is beautiful, although a bit of maintenance would really help.
Place Hedim is the Jemma el Finna of Meknes. The square main square if the old part of the city. It is the best place to take a break and sip a glass of fresh pomegranate juice while doing some people-watching. As I said, this city has the essentials to entertain tourists, Moroccan style; snake charmers, henna ladies, souvenir stalls, etc.
Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail
Unfortunately this mausoleum was closed for maintenance when we were there.. booooo!
Royal Granary Her es-Souani and stables
Not sure why we should visit a granary, really. Anyhoo, we were there and this granary was one of the It place to visit in Meknes. The granary is pretty big tho and was used to store great a heck of a lot of grains. Dynasty of Moulay Ismail must have been massive that he needed that big ass granary to feed all his cavalry troop that were stabled here.
Habs Qara Underground Prison
If a prison is creepy enough, imagine this; underground ancient prison that once held up to 60 thousand prisoners, chained up to the walls. Omar told us that the prisoners were forced to work laboriously outside during the day and they had to sleep standing up at night. Savage…
There was not much to see here except the empty rooms with high ceilings and arched hallway. They should’ve kept some of the properties and or put mannequins to build up an atmosphere, helping the visitors to visualize what the prison would look like back then.
Medersa Bou Inania
Yes, there is a Medersa Bou Inania too in Meknes, a bit smaller than the one in Fes, but just as beautiful and decorated.
The Medina in Meknes is less hectic and somehow felt much more organized than Fes Medina. I mean you can find a corner dedicated for pickled ingredients, cookies, butchery, and all that jazz easily. The vendors are also much nicer, they are really proud with their products and will happily make you taste without giving you pressure to buy anything.
Bottom line is, I love wearing skirts even if sometime it hurts (masochist alert). Oh wait, we are still talking about Meknes, aren’t we? Okay then, bottom line is Meknes is a lovely humble city I highly suggest to visit. Spend a night even.
PS: what do you think about my batik skirt? It is super cute isn’t? I love it! A close friend of mine made it specially for me, how cool is that?!