Meknes. Imperial City Hidden Treasures / Ukryte skarby królewskiego miasta

While most of the tourists would head directly towards Fez, it is in Meknes where we finally find some calmness and get a guarantee of escaping from the stubborn and persistent guides and merchants, so common in the rest of Morocco. Though it might be hard to believe, this former capital of the country still remains partially undiscovered.

Meknes, first inhabited since the IXth century by the Berbers from the tribe of Miknasa (hence the name) and then by the Almoravids and the Marinid dynasty, is a mine full of treasures and an extraordinary testimony of Arab craftsmen artistry. The sightseeing should be very thorough and haste is not advised. In return, the time spend in Meknes will result in beautiful memories as well as an album full of great photos. Today I am going to show you those places which require some time to be found deep inside the charming medina.

Podczas gdy większość turystów kieruje się bezpośrednio w stronę Fezu, właśnie w Meknes zaznajemy trochę spokoju oraz gwarancję odpoczynku od natarczywych przewodników 0raz sprzedawców tak powszechnych w Maroku. Choć trudno w to uwierzyć, ta dawna stolica kraju wciąż pozostaje nie do końca odkryta.

Meknes zamieszkały od IX w. najpierw przez Berberów z plemienia Miknasa (stąd jego nazwa), a następnie przez Almorawidów oraz Merenidów to kopalnia skarbów oraz wspaniałe świadectwo kunsztu arabskich rzemieślników i artystów. Miasto należy zwiedzać nieśpiesznie i dokładnie. W zamian za spędzony tu czas Meknes odwdzięczy się pięknymi wspomnieniami oraz całym albumem niezwykłych zdjęć. Dziś pokażę Wam te miejsca, których nie widać na pierwszy rzut oka, a które odszukać należy we wnętrzu urokliwej medyny.

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We insolently cover the ornaments of the museum fountain. I mean… I cover it, my wife is simply making them even more beautiful. / Bezczelnie zasłaniamy muzealną fontannę. To znaczy ja zasłaniam, bo żona ją tylko jeszcze bardziej upiększa!

As soon as you enter, you can expect the curator to offer himself to be your personal photographer. There is no hall and no room, which would not be an excellent background for a photo shot.  Although “unexpectedly” the service turns out to be paid at the exit, it really pays off. The “photographer” knows his profession.

The residency of the influential Jamaï family was built in 1882 and turned into the Museum of the Moroccan Art some twenty years later. Each fragment of its interior fit for ornamenting got turned into a piece of art. Floor tiles, walls, pillars, finally wooden doors and the articles of everyday use are all exhibits  which cannot be seen anywhere else. It is only here that you may experience with your own eyes the splendor which still accompanied Moroccan bourgeoisie some 100 years ago. Dar Jamaï Museum also constitutes a proof of how easy it is for one to lose everything because of politics. Two members of the Jamaï family had been ministers in the court of Moulay al-Hassan I.  The palace got confiscated not long after the death of the sultan.

Już od progu można spodziewać się, że kustosz zaoferuje się jako osobisty fotograf. Nie ma takiej sali i takiego pokoju, który nie stanowił by znakomitego tła na wspólne zdjęcie. I choć “nieoczekiwaną” opłatę uiszcza się dopiero przy wyjściu, szybko okazało się, że warto było przyjąć ofertę. “Fotograf” zna się na rzeczy.

Zbudowana w 1882 rezydencja wpływowej rodziny  Jamaï przerobiona została na Muzeum Sztuki Marokańskiej już dwadzieścia lat później. Każdy fragment jej wnętrza, który nadawał się do ozdobienia został przekształcony w dzieło sztuki. Posadzki, ściany, filary, wreszcie drewniane drzwi i przedmioty codziennego użytku to eksponaty, których nie zobaczycie nigdzie indziej. Tylko tutaj na własne oczy można przekonać się o przepychu który towarzyszył marokańskiej burżuazji jeszcze sto lat temu. Muzeum Dar Jamaï to również dowód na to, z jaką łatwością można stracić wszystko na skutek politycznych rozgrywek. Pałac został bowiem skonfiskowany na krótko po śmierci sułtana Moulaya al-Hassana I, do którego gabinetu należeli członkowie rodziny.

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We have never had some many photos taken together inside a museum. / Jeszcze nigdy nie mieliśmy tylu wspólnych zdjęć we wnętrzu muzeum.

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Mausoleum of Moulay Ismaïl proves to be even more interesting. It is one of the few sacred places where the infidels are allowed to enter.

Moulay Ismaïl (1672–1727) is a figure remembered in Morocco for  bringing peace and prosperity after a long period of anarchy in the first half of the XVIIth century. He also went down in history for driving out the Spanish and the  Brits (who occupied Tangier) from Morocco. Yet for visitors from other countries, the cult must be somewhat surprising. Moulay Ismaïl was first and foremost a man of an immeasurable cruelty. His capital Meknes was built with the hands of 25,000 slaves, which had been captured by the Berber pirates along European shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It was under his reign that the infidels were being murdered in great numbers. Christians were on the other hand being used as a bargaining chip during negotiations with European powers. One of sultan’s orders was to “decorate” the city walls with heads of 10,000 slaves which was meant to scare the attacking enemies off.

This is not all however. Should you wish to learn more about the legacy of the sadistic sultan, I would recommend you to have a go with at Andrew Petcher blog.

Chyba jeszcze większych emocji dostarcza Mauzoleum Moulaya Ismaïla. To jedno z niewielu świętych miejsc, do których wstęp mają innowiercy.

Moulay Ismaïl (1672–1727) to postać kojarzona z zaprowadzeniem pokoju i dobrobytu po długim okresie anarchii w pierwszej połowie XVII wieku. Na kartach historii sułtan zapisał się również wypędzeniem z Maroka Hiszpanów oraz Brytyjczyków (z okupowanego przez nich Tangeru). Dla przybyszów z innych krajów musi być to jednak kult co najmniej zaskakujący. Moulay Ismaïl był przede wszystkim człowiekiem niezwykle okrutnym. Swoją stolicę Meknes zbudował rękami 25.000 niewolników, schwytanych przez piratów wzdłuż europejskich wybrzeży Morza Śródziemnego. Za jego panowania prześladowano i masowo mordowano innowierców. Chrześcijanie używali byli często jako karty przetargowe w pertraktacjach z mocarstwami europejskimi. Jednym z jego rozkazów miało być “udekorowanie” miejskich murów głowami 10.000 niewolników co miało odstraszyć atakujących wrogów.

Ale to nie wszystko. O tym co jeszcze pozostawił po sobie sadystyczny sułtan możecie przeczytać na blogu Andrew Petchera.

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If I remember correctly, the source inside the Moulay Ismail mausoleum is said to have healing powers. / O ile dobrze pamiętam, źródło tryskające we wnętrzu mauzoleum Moulaya Ismaila posiada moc uzdrawiającą.
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Perhaps, yet you can definitely heal your soul just by admiring the interiors. / Być może, ale duszę można uzdrowić już poprzez samo podziwianie wnętrz.
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Each door guards a secret or at least this is what I believed in wandering around the mausoleum. / Każde drzwi skrywają jakiś sekret, albo przynajmniej takie miałem wrażenie spacerując po mauzoleum.

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With exception of this door… / Za wyjątkiem tych drzwi…

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Aga might just be a perfect priestess, right? / Aga mogłaby być świetną kapłanką, prawda?

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There is truth in every myth! / W każdej legendzie jest ziarenko prawdy!

I recommend leaving the madrasa (a Quranic school*) for a dessert. One in Meknes is named after sultan Abu Inan (like its even more beautiful sister school in Fez) and was constructed in 1358. It is a true marvel, one of the most beautiful buildings left by the Marinid dynasty. Personally, I could spend hours gazing at the marvelous mosaics, carved doors and the wealth of forms and patterns.

*I will write more about teaching and education in the world of Islam once I write about the Bou Inania madrasa in Fez.

Na deser polecam odnaleźć madrasę czyli szkołę koraniczną*. Ta w Meknes nazwana imieniem sułtana Abu Inana (tak samo zresztą jak jej jeszcze piękniejsza siostra w Fezie) powstała w 1358 roku. To prawdziwy klejnot, jedna z najpiękniejszych budowli pozostawionych przez dynastię Marynidów. Osobiście mógłbym godzinami wpatrywać się we wspaniałe mozaiki, rzeźbione wrota i bogactwo form i wzorów.

*Więcej o nauczaniu w świecie Islamu napiszę przy okazji wizyty w madrasie Bou Inania w Fezie, której poświęcę osobny post.

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Nowadays most of the Quranic schools are closed. Iran being an exception. / Dziś większość szkół koranicznych jest już zamknięta. Wyjątkiem jest jeszcze Iran.

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This is just to remind a lost tourist where he is ;-) / To tak na wypadek gdyby turysta zapomniał gdzie się znajduje ;-)

***

You may find Bou Inania Madrasa on Najjarine street. Entrance costs 10dh. Expect to pay the same for Dar Jamaï museum. In the mausoleum you can pay as much as you want, which most often means you need to pay more ;-) Photos are allowed everywhere, while very often you might find someone offering his help in this regard. All the three sights can be easily seen in one day, together with a relaxed walk around Meknes medina.

***

Medresę Bou Inania odnajdziecie na ulicy Najjarine. Wstęp 10dh. Tyle samo kosztuje wejście do muzeum Dar Jamaï. W mauzoleum wyznaje się zasadę co łaska, więc najczęściej kończy się to trochę wyższą kwotą ;-) Wszędzie można robić zdjęcia, a często możecie liczyć na to, że zrobi je ktoś za Was. Wszystkie trzy miejsca można spokojnie odwiedzić jednego dnia, wraz z nieśpiesznym spacerem po medynie Meknes.

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87 thoughts on “Meknes. Imperial City Hidden Treasures / Ukryte skarby królewskiego miasta

    1. :-) Oh, you are most, most welcome! And so glad you travel with us!
      True right? Aga looks so cute on those pics, these are one of my favorites! All the best to you and have a great day ahead (the rest of it :-) ). Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks my friends. Yes, Aga is adorable and truly angelic looking. Please give her a huge hug from me. I loved the pic with you both in the door as well. :) This post has made my day. Have an amazing day as well!

        Like

    1. Thanks! I just had to post those photos of us. I find them one of the best we have had together in Morocco ☺ Though, as You might have seen, I do not post too many of personal pics. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Excellent post. I share your opinion that Meknes is a wonderful city and well worth a visit. What I liked was that it lacked the hassle of Marrakech and Fez with much less tourist pestering. We walked around the Medina without being bothered at all, people seemed to hardly notice that we were there. I look forward to your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Andrew! And thank you for linking to my post as well. Meknes was exactly like you said, no hassle! We visited it before Fez, so we th0ugh it might be the same there. Oh, how wrong were we…

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  2. How beautiful! Of course not just your wife is beautiful, but the mausoleum, as well. :-)
    Thank you for all the stunning photos, and all of the history. I love learning about history. It is easy to see that Morocco is rich in that regard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is! It’s like a huge archeological site which is waiting to be explored still! I never thought O would be writing that much about history, yet here I am ☺ thanks Resa! Gotta show this to Aga as well ☺

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  3. ‘Personally, I could spend hours gazing at the marvelous mosaics, carved doors and the wealth of forms and patterns.’
    You have summed up my feelings with this statement. What a treasure you have by your side, your beautiful wife, Aga. And what wonderful images you have together in such incredibly built surrounds.
    Hopefully, all remnants of the cruel and horrific past are gone, and the people can now enjoy what remains in peace in this diverse culture and aesthetics.
    Another marvellous tour. Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You Carolyn! She is a real treasure, indeed. Of course not 24h/7 as every woman, but still 😆 just teasing że know she’s reading those comments.
      I would love to think that we’re past cruelty. Then look what’s happening… Turkey is the recent example. We’ll never get there. There will always be cruel people out there… Perphaps it’s just human race…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Teasing is good, and can only be done when love is ‘real’… Hi, Aga; you have a good man!
        Yes, it is certainly true. Cruelty seems paramount is so many areas of the world ‘still’. The only thing, and the best thing we can do, is to ensure ‘our’ lives are spent in good company, with our intent to live happily and peacefully.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Stunning photos. As Meknes is my favorite city in Morocco, I wish I stayed there longer. The city is amazing, calmer, nice people around (nobody forces me to buy something from their shops) with so many histories inside. I found a very helpful photographer at Jamai museum assisting me a lot to get my own photos ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if this was the same person we met. Extremely kind guy! And a real pro ☺ You have the same observations on Meknes as myself Nurul. Meknes is so much different than Fez or Marrakech.

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  5. What beautiful photos. The building itself is a piece of art. The history is unfortunately not quite as beautiful. I hope the world will someday leave the horrors behind, once and for all. I know it isn’t likely, but there’s so much beauty in the world to enjoy, why waste our time with what’s ugly. Your posts are fascinating. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You are of course right, I only hope more and more people think like that and together we can work towards a better future for all of us. No matter the religion, beliefs and culture.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. After I visit all your wonderful posts, I am sure I will have turned into an expert in the culture and history of Morocco. Your reports with the photos are simply superb. When you said your wife adds beauty to the already beautiful scene, my wife mentioned that I would have said the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ☺ lovely! Say “hi” to Your marvellous wife from me! Funny thing is, I was never an expert on Morocco. Not even close… Then somehow I feel this urge to add to the photos I post. Thank You again for your kind words ☺

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    1. It is! Whenever You take time to comment I will always respond. I believe it’s out of respect for people. I also respect that someone would find strenght to read all my posts, haha ☺ As You said, although it sometimes takes time, I like to connect and share thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. To pierwszy post gdzie jest nas tak dużo. Ale Aga wyszła na zdjęciach tak ładnie, że musiałem je opublikować ☺ Ty to zawsze coś zauważysz! Nie zwróciłem uwagi na żyrandole! Faktycznie dziwne!

      Like

    1. Thank you! We definitely share the passion for discovering new places. Though Aga tends to get more interested in gardens nowadays ;-) Hmm, shall we start to explore world’s gardens as a compromise?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are going to have some wonderful time for sure! I have written another one on Meknes yesterday, have a look. This city is authentic, fascinating and mysterious. You are going to love it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful photographs of Moroccan architecture and the tiling of the floors and part walls notwithstanding the comfy sitting areas found within. I feel I was born in this land in the past at one time as I am comfortable with the surroundings. Be well

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It might be true! Our souls traveling around the world. Perhaps us liking different places all over the world and being pulled to them means we have already been there in our previous lives :-) Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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