Meknes, Morocco’s door to the world
Among the mountains of the Middle Atlas, there is a city which stands between the green valley, a real surprise for all tourists who visit it. This is also shown in its history, that despite being extensive and glorious, survives in the atmosphere without making much noise, in the middle of the calm and tranquility that characterize the city of Meknes. Being aware that apart from the other imperial cities, Meknes respresents a unique beauty of a quiet and balanced nature, a fruit of contrast and the time, something that can only be understood by hanging around its winding streets on foot.
It was conceived around the 7th century to function as a fortress, later to be founded as a city around the tenth century by the Meknasa Berber tribe. Meknes lived its period of maximum splendor under the rule of Sultan Mulay Ismail, when it became the capital of the Kingdom in the seventeenth century. Fruit of the city’s important role in history, with the river Boufrekane that separates the old part of the city from the new one, Meknes is the result of a fruitful historical past with valuable monuments which clearly reflects a prosperous and noble old days in its many mansions and palaces. It is here where you will enjoy the wonders of the different kinds, such as Bab Mansour or Bab Berdaine.
Bab Mansour is considered to be the largest gate in Morocco. It was built by Moulay Ismail in 1672. Nevertheless, the construction of this monument ended under the command of his son, Mulay Adallah, in 1732. There’s a legend that when the sultan asked the gate’s architect whether he could have done a better job, he said yes and was promptly executed. Be this as it may, Bab Mansour has an unparalleled, enormously varied potential for attracting visitors and never fails to impress the traveller. Clear proof of this is that even the French writer Pierre Loti described what he had seen with his own eyes: ”the rosettes, stars, entanglements, broken lines, geometric combinations that misdirect your eyes like a puzzle game but always demonstrate the taste, the most worked and artistic one, accumulated here, with myriads of small pieces of enameled earth… to break the boredom of those high defenses”. Nowadays, the door serves as an art gallery, so to enter the city you need to use a side gate.
Bab Berdaine, on the other hand, is also one of the buildings that were constructed by Mulay Ismail, who wanted to convert Meknes into a glorious city. Bab Berdaine owns its name to the merchants that used to pass through the area, since it has always been a place where both commercial and diplomatic agreements have been signed. Therefore, thanks to its privileged position, the door, with two crenellated towers, one on each side. controls the north of the Medina.