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We spent six weeks in Morocco, a country at the door step of Europe and full of surprises.

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Path: Photos > The Imperial Cities: Meknes and Fez
Tags: Morocco  2017

The Imperial Cities: Meknes and Fez

 

(vero;2018-July-31)

Meknes became the capital of Morocco under the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail (reigned 1672—1727). A great but cruel warrior, nicknamed “The Bloodthirsty”, he was key in establishing the Alaouite dynasty against the opposition of the numerous tribes of Morocco. He moved the capital from Fez to Meknes which he transformed into an impressive city in Spanish-Moorish style, surrounded by high walls and filled with great monuments. Unfortunately, the city's glory was short-lived and it lost its importance soon after Sultan Moulay Ismail's death, when his grandson Mohammed III (reigned 1757-1790) moved the capital to Marrakesh.

Fez is an other proposition. The city was founded in 789 and gained great importance from the 12th to the 14th century as a strong business and religious centre with the Al-Karaouine Mosque becoming a respected university which attracted scholars and religious men from the whole Islamic world. Even though the city has long lost its role as the capital, it has not lost its importance and prestige in all ranges of life, being artistic, religious, intellectual or commercial.

Some of the photos in this gallery are panoramas. Press F to expand those pictures to their real size and use the bottom scroll bar to navigate through the picture.

Meknes - the monumental gate of Bab el-Mansour commanding the entrance to Moulay Ismail's imperial city. Unfortunately, much of the Imperial City was under renovation as we were there, so we could not see Moulay Ismail's mausoleum and the Place Lalla Aouda was a building site. Press F to expand the picture to its real size and use the bottom scroll bar to navigate through it.
Inside Meknes' souks, the souk El Dlala (carpets, drapes and curtains). It gets quite busy in the afternoon when women come here to auction their old bed or cushion covers, curtains and other drapes. The women sit behind their goods and wait for auctioneers (see the man with a black cap and a grey tee-shirt discussing with a potential buyer) to pick them up and offer them to interested women looking for a bargain and standing behind the sitting sellers. Sometimes the goods do not find an immediate buyer and they are offered for sale to the professional market sellers who can buy them and although they are second-hand, will offer them at a much higher price in their shops the day after. Bags for sale… We spoke with the young man in charge. Since he does not have a shop of his own, he is coming every morning to set up and display his bags on some folding tables and a wall at the entrance of the souks. He arrives between 7 and 8 am and needs three to three and a half hours to set everything up. He will typically start to dismantle his stand at 7 pm and it will take him two to two and a half hours before he can get home. Speak of hard work… Meknes - stall with colourful leather babouches, the typical Moroccan slippers. A butcher's shop inside Meknes' souk. The picture may be a bit shocking but to be honest, we found the meat on offer in Moroccan souks to be of good quality and appetising. A world of difference from India! Meknes - shop keeper arranging his display of mouth-watering olives. Meknes - we were big customers of this biscuit stall. Meknes - a street seller with his cart full of fresh aromatic herbs and mint. The smell of fresh mint is a cherished memory of our strolls through Moroccan souks. Meknes - many families living in the medina do not have an oven at home and they bring their own bread dough or dishes to communal bakers who bake them in their ovens against a fee. This baker is just putting in his oven a chicken brought by a young girl and enveloped in aluminium foil. Meknes - a street in the medina. Meknes - since the streets of the medina are too narrow for cars, donkeys are the preferred mode of transport and delivery. Spot the bird cage on the top right corner of the picture. A colourful street in Meknes' medina. Meknes - colourful shop selling coffee on Rue Rouamzine. Carrion is a famous Moroccan brand created in 1924 by Manuel Carrion Lopez in Tetouan. The name Carrion is for many Moroccans associated with positive holiday memories as this brand could only be found in Northern Morocco where many spent their summer holidays, a specific marketing strategy of the Carrion family. However, after a change of ownership in 2007, the brand has started expanding and has been opening shops in all major cities of Morocco. Panoramic view of Fez' medina as seen from Borj Nord, a fortress located north of the old city. On the left, the Merenid Tombs, the city walls are clearly seen encircling the medina. Press F to expand the picture to its real size and use the bottom scroll bar to navigate through it. Fez - close up of the Al-Karaouine Mosque and its green roofs from the view point at Borj Nord. The second minaret in the background is the one from the Andalusian Mosque. Fez - Bab Bou Jeloud, the main western entrance to Fez el-Bali, the old city of Fez. The minaret to the right of the gate is from the Mosque inside the Bou Inania Medersa. Fez - ever-present storks lining the mighty city ramparts. Fez - the entrance gate to the Royal Palace, Dar el-Makhzen. Fez - detail of the doors of the Royal Palace, made from brass and surrounded by fine tiles and carved cedar wood. Fez - line of houses in the Mellah or Jewish quarter. In bigger cities, Mellahs were always surrounded by a protecting wall with a fortified gateway, separating them from the Muslim part of town. Contrary to Muslim habitations in the medina which are surrounded by high and blind walls and are turned on their inside courtyards, the houses of the Mellah are open to the street with windows and balconies. Fez - view of the iconic and photogenic (and smelly) tanneries. Tourists are not allowed inside but the tanneries can be viewed from the top of surrounding houses and leather shops against a small fee (or a smile). Fez - man preparing skins in a workshop in the medina; donkeys transporting skins through the narrow streets of the medina for further processing; skins drying on the ground. Fez - two street views of the medina. On the left, the typical inhospitable high walls with hardly a window prevent the sun from reaching the street. On the right, donkey waiting in the sun. Motorbikes are the only motorised vehicles able to navigate the narrow streets. Fez - street views in the medina. To the left, souvenir shops lining Talaa Seghira and to the right, the green minaret of the Sidi Ahmed Tijani mosque. Fez - the Nejjarine fountain with its intricate carvings and colourful tiles. Fez - opposite the Bou Inania Medersa is the Dar al-Magana, a 14th century water clock, which is not in use anymore. As shown on the picture, the clock consists of 12 windows and platforms carrying brass bowls (currently missing). The motion of the clock was presumably maintained by a kind of small cart which ran from left to right behind the twelve doors. At one end, the cart was attached to a rope with a hanging weight; at the other end to a rope with a weight that floated on the surface of a water reservoir that was drained at a regular pace. Each hour one of the doors opened; at the same time a metal ball was dropped into one of the twelve brass bowls. The rafters sticking out of the building above the doors (identical to the rafters of the Bou Inania Madrasa) supported a small roof to shield the doors and bowls (description taken from the <a target="_blank"  href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dar_al-Magana">Wikipedia article dedicated to Dar al-Magana</a>). Fez - the minaret of the Chrabliyine mosque in the medina. You may wonder what is the gibbet-like mast doing on top of the minaret, something typical Moroccan. Well, it is of course not a gibbet: in the past, in a time without loudspeakers, the muezzin used to raise a white flag on top of the minaret to indicate to the believers too far away to hear his call that it was prayer time. Fez - entrance to the Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts, a former funduq (caravanserail) built in 1711 by Sultan Moulay Ismail. Fez - courtyard of the Medersa Bou Inania (built 1350-1357). To make sure you do not miss the intricate carvings and the delicate decoration, press F to expand the picture to its real size and use the bottom scroll bar to navigate through it. Fez - inside view of the mosque in the Bou Inania Medersa. To make sure you do not miss the fine mihrab, the intricate carvings and the glass windows, press F to expand the picture to its real size and use the bottom scroll bar to navigate through it

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$updated from: Photos.htxt Mon 03 May 2021 16:08:28 trvl2 (By Vero and Thomas Lauer)$