Meknes and Volubilis

Meknes was pleasant, but I didn’t find a lot to say about it, although the Tribunal (former law courts) houses the brand new Musée de Meknes (Museum of Meknes), which we didn’t see – it seems to exhibit local metalwork, textiles, carpets, pottery and jewellery, as well as farming implements and a spectacular suit of armour studded with coral, turquoise and coins. The Dar Jamaï Museum, right on the main Place El Hedim, is a fine 19th-century palace that displays excellent local polychrome ceramics and carpets with striking geometric designs from the Middle Atlas.

Katy says: The  best place to really cool down in Meknes is the Koubba el Khayatine! This is a huge underground vault known as the Ambassadors’ Hall which may once have been a granary or a dungeon for Christian slave labourers.

The Koubba el Khayatine

We often use AirB&B to find interesting local places to stay and can recommend a real gem in Meknes medina. It wasn’t easy to find at first, but we were met outside a nearby mosque by the owners’ daughter who led us to their charming house. Our simple, small but spotless room was on the roof terrace and we were offered a welcome meal of harira soup that evening in the family kitchen. Dominique is French and his wife is Moroccan. They are both helpful and cultured without being in the least obtrusive. We paid £28 for the night for us both, but the price may go up in high season. Despite the very low front door (see photo of Tim) the rest of the building was of normal dimensions! 

We soon took a shared taxi to Moulay Idris, adjacent to the Roman ruins of Volubilis (from the 1st Century BC to the 3rd Century AD). It’s an easy and pleasant 45-minute walk along a back road from Moulay Idriss to Volubilis, and on a Friday (the Islamic day off) there were lots of friendly people going the same way and sitting in the fields. If you want to take a taxi one-way, it’s easier from Moulay Idriss, as there were only grands taxis waiting at the ruins and they were reluctant to only go as far as Moulay Idriss. You could also walk on a higher-level route, but you’d need a decent map. The ruins’ major selling point is the array of mosaic floors, remarkably well preserved by the dry climate – well worth seeing!

The road to Volubilis
A snapshot of the vast ruins of Volubilis