A Truly Royal City
Trip Start May 01, 2001
44Trip End Jun 30, 2001
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Meknes is one of the "Imperial Cities" of Morocco, because it was the capital of Morocco during a period of its history and it definitely lives up to that title. In fact, it might actually be the most "royal" of all the Royal Cities!
As soon as I get off my taxi kbir, and catch a glimpse of a huge, majestic gateway with it's decorative mosaics glistening with the reflection of the lights, I know this is going to be a very special experience... I enter the gateway towards what seems to be the old city only to come to another enormous wall zigzagging its way up a slope..
I soon find a cheap hotel, and settle in for the night.
Meknes is basically divided into three sections. the middle section is the "Old City" which is itself divided into several sections. To the west you have an old medina with a bustling marketplace, some very regal looking buildings with fancy latticework and then some pretty gritty areas..
...Then around this section you pass the royal palace and another gateway to another section which is simply magnificent. I almost don't notice this tunnel over to one side--this tunnel that winds around INSIDE the massive walls and then leads to another fort-like section of the city. The tunnels have a very Roman-like feel with their arch ceilings... Clearly folks felt very secure within these massive walls... A lot of dead ends in this fort as well--but I don't mind one bit--every single alleyway has some unexpected surprise to it.
... Once outside the fort... past a couple of regal government buildings--I head out to explore the poorer and livelier eastern sub-section--also surrounded by a outer wall...
The Southern section of town stretches on for miles--and much of it is also surounded by another wall--not quite as well maintained as the inner walls, but impressive nonetheless
I head back towards the Old Medina only to be hit by a monsoon like storm. Thousands of Meknesians are faced with the dilemma of either getting home late for their Ramadan ftor or getting soaked--many choose the latter. I stand with a crowd of cowards under shelter cheering anyone who dares cross the street a.k.a. river... Who says it never rains in Morocco?
Finally the rain stops and I head up to thoroughly the modern, north section of the city. It's separated from rest of the city by a lush green valley which includes a small zoo (now closed)... On the other side is a very modern shopping district with a few mid-rises... then an area of apartment complexes going up and fancy villas to the east... to the north, another lively residential area with a large, very muddy street market.