Monday, June 6, 2011
Although its medina is smaller and its building not as jaw-droppingly beautiful in comparison to Fez, it's a city that is more alive and vibrant, smaller, more manageable, and further away from the tourist trail. As a result, it is a much more relaxing place to visit.
Most of the town is associated with the rule of Moulay Ismail, whose weirdly extreme authoritarianism and megalomania defined Meknes. Unhappy with making Fez or Marrakesh his capital, he moved his courts to Meknes and proceeded to build the "Versailles of Morocco". Time and circumstance however were not to be Meknes' friends. By 1755, an earthquake has damaged much of the compound. Before that a battle between Moulay Ismail's son for succession occurred; instead of rebuilding, his successor simply moved the capital to Marrakesh. Until the advent of colonial French tourism, Meknes was reduced to a dusty provincial town.