Founded in the 10th century by the Zenite tribe of  Meknassa , then conquered by the Almoravids, it was first a military site (11th century) and developed under the Almohad dynasty (12th century) and in the following century with the Marinids. It was not until the end of the 17th century and the advent of the second Alawite Sultan that the city became the first imperial city.

Moulay Ismail gave him an extraordinary boost.

Moulay Ismail Mausoleum

This mosque, built in 1703 by Ahmed Eddahbi, became the mausoleum where Sultan Moulay Ismail tomb burried, surrounded by members of his family. It is one of the few religious monuments in Morocco, open to non-Muslims. There is a room decorated with four Comtises clocks, gifts from Louis 14 to the Sultan.

Heri Souani and Dar Al Ma

The most prestigious building of the Imperial City, remarkable for its impressive dimensions, formed by 2 large parts:

  • Dar Al Ma (water house) covered part of the monument comprising ten well rooms whose water supply was through underground pipes that feed both the wells and the large water basin called «Sahrij Souani» located next to this building.
  • The Granaries also called Stables which ceiling collapsed during the Lisbon earthquake that struck North Africa in 1755, are formed of several series of arches which  fallen ceiling marks the departure of collapsed vaults.Sahrij Souani

immense Huge reservoir of water in the form of a pond, dating from the Ismaili era (late 17th century), it is located in the imperial city, northwest of the Granaries. It is a hydraulic structure that measures 149 by 319 meters and has a depth of about 3 meters. The basin was originally supplied with water by the ten norias of the neighbouring building (Dar Al Ma), connected to it by terracotta pipes, and under which were about ten groundwater : from there comes the appellation Sahrijsouani (the Norias basin).

Meknes National Haras of

Created in 1912, the Haras of Meknes is the oldest of the national studs. Classified as a historical heritage of the city and surrounded by a wall, it covers an area of nearly 67 ha, 40 of which the main area is dedicated by the racecourse. It contains the only national mare beard and production of horses Beards and Arabs-Beards, 78 stallions and a equestrian club.

Mansour Palace

An imposing remains built around the beginning of the 18th century, the Mansour Palace combines its functions as a watchtower and bastion, as an armament depot, a grain reservoir and a princely residence.

Borj Bel Kari Museum

Dedicated to the pottery of the Rif and the anti-rif regions, it opened its doors for the first time in 2004 and takes its name from Borj Bel Kari, a great historical bastion dating from the time of Moulay Ismail. With an area of 3,000 square metres, this tower was part of the defensive system of the Kasbah of Meknes. Thanks to its historical and architectural significance, it was listed as a historic monument since 1932.

The Royal Golf

In the heart of the Imperial City, the Royal Golf of  Meknes (9 holes) is the only enclosed golf course in Africa. It presents a special atmosphere with its golf-garden immersed in a park with a thousand flowers, it is an integral part of the Royal Palace of Meknes. It was in 1969 that the late His Majesty Hassan II made him freely available to the people of Meknes. Going up the course, golfers travel through the city’s history and follow the ramparts where storks nest.

Ambassadors’ Pavillion

It is an isolated pavilion of square form, dating from the late 17 th century, formed of a single rectangular room. It is located inside the Imperial City, south - west of the Bab Mansour Gate. This pavilion served as a courtroom where Sultan Moulay Ismail received foreign ambassadors and emissaries visiting Meknes. On the back wall of the hall, a commemorating distinction  is hanged  with the inscription of  the historic city of Meknes on the World Heritage List by UNESCO on 06 December 1996.


On the 7 th of December 1996, the World Heritage Committee meeting in its 20th session held in Mérida, Mexico, inscribed the historic city of Meknes on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The inscription on this list enshrines the exceptional universal value of Meknes, so that it may be protected for the benefit of humanity.

Habs Qara

Near the Ambassadors' Pavilion lies Habs Qara (Qara Prison), which is said to be named after a Portuguese prisoner. It is a vast underground served by stairs whose architecture and its striking resemblance to the attic of Heri Souani, suggests that his initial function was simply to store food, and  could have eventually served temporarily as a prison in times of war with foreign countries.

Lalla Aouda Square

It has a rectangular plan, delimited on either side by imposing walls that constitute the fortified enclosure of the first imperial residence. In the past, it was reserved for the official missions of the Sultan and the parades of the horsemen - soldiers of Moulay Ismail.

Museum of Meknes

This small museum is dedicated to traditional arts and crafts. You can see many traditional costumes, as well as the most varied crafts, from carpet to pottery, not to mention the tools used in the fabrication.

Lahdim Square

In front of Bab Mansour, Lahdim Square strikes with its vast proportions. A meeting point of the medina and the imperial city, this vast esplanade is a must for access to the souks. Today, the square is animated by Halkas, especially in the evening, where troops and speakers present their shows. The southwest side of the square is occupied by the market of the town of Meknes which is worth visiting.

 Dar Jamai Palace

This vast residence built in 1882 belonged to Mohamed Ben Larbi Jamaï, Grand Vizier of Sultan Moulay Hassan 1st (1873- 1894). In 1912, the French made it a military hospital called «Hôpital Louis». Since 1920, this palace houses an ethnographic museum, it was the first museological nucleus of Morocco.

The Big Mosque

Founded by the Almoravids in the 12th century, modified several times during the time of the Almohads, the Marinids and especially during the reign of Moulay Ismail. It is characterized by its large area (3,500 square meters), its 164 arcades and its beautiful carved awnings.

Al Bouânania Madrassah

This madrassah (traditional school) would be contemporary at to the madrasah Al Bouânania of Fez, being completed around 1345 at the time of Sultan Mérinide Abu Al Hassan. This masterpiece of Hispano-Moorish style is built according to classical plans of Koranic school:  a central courtyard with basin, surrounded by a gallery and a prayer room and on the floor some tiny cells for students.


Moulay Ismail has made of Meknes an impressive city of Hispano-Moorish style that still, up  to now shows the harmonious alliance of Islamic and European styles, both in architecture and urbanism, in the Maghreb of the 17th century. The historical city of Meknes exerted a considerable influence on the development of civil and military architecture (the kasbah) and works of art; it is what gives this heritage its universal value.