Meknes

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Meknes
مكناس / ⴰⵎⴽⵏⴰⵙ / Meknès
Prefecture-level city
Bab Mansour Gate, the historical sign of Meknes.
Bab Mansour Gate, the historical sign of Meknes.
Official seal of Meknes
Seal
Nickname(s):
العاصمة الاسماعيلية
مكناسة الزيتون
The Ismaïlian Capital
The médina of 100 minarets.
Meknes is located in Morocco
Meknes
Meknes
Location in Morocco
Coordinates: 33°53′42″N 5°33′17″W / 33.89500°N 5.55472°W / 33.89500; -5.55472Coordinates: 33°53′42″N 5°33′17″W / 33.89500°N 5.55472°W / 33.89500; -5.55472
Country Flag of Morocco.svg Morocco
Region Fès-Meknès
Prefecture Meknès Prefecture
Government
 • Mayor Abdellah Bouanou[1]
 • Prefect Abdelghani Sebbar[2]
Elevation[3] 546 m (1,792 ft)
Population (September 2014)
 • Prefecture-level city 835,695 [4]
 • Rank 6th in Morocco
 • Urban 656,635
 • Metro 1,000,000
Time zone GMT (UTC±00:00)
 • Summer (DST) WEST (UTC+01:00) (UTC)
Postal code 50000
Website www.meknes.ma

Meknes (French: Meknès; Arabic: مكناس Mknas‎‎; Berber: ⴰⵎⴽⵏⴰⵙ Ameknas; Spanish: Mequinez) is one of the four Imperial cities of Morocco, located in northern central Morocco and the sixth largest city by population in the kingdom. Founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids as a military settlement, Meknes became a capital under the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl (1672–1727), the founder of the Alaouite dynasty. Sultan Moulay Ismaïl turned it into an impressive city in Spanish-Moorish style, surrounded by high walls with great doors, where the harmonious blending of the Islamic and European styles of the 17th century Maghreb are still evident today.[5] The urban population is estimated at more than 650,000[6] with the metropolitan population close to 1,000,000. It is the seat of Meknès Prefecture and an important economic pole in the region of Fès-Meknès. Meknes is named after a Berber tribe which, was known as Miknasa (native Berber name: Imeknasen) in the medieval North African documents.

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Historic City of Meknes
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Bab Mansour
Type Cultural
Criteria iv
Reference 793
UNESCO region North Africa / Arab States
Inscription history
Inscription 1996 (20th Session)

History[edit]

A Berber tribe called the Miknasa (Imeknasen), originally from the Tunisian south, settled here in the 9th century.

The Almoravids founded a fortress in Meknes during the 11th century. It resisted the Almohads rise, and was thus destroyed by them, only to be rebuilt in a larger size with mosques and large fortifications. Under the Merinids it received further madrasas, kasbahs and mosques in the early 14th century, and continued to thrive under the Wattasid dynasty. Meknes saw its golden age as the imperial capital of Moulay Ismail following his accession to the Sultanate of Morocco (1672–1727). He installed under the old city a large prison to house Christian sailors captured on the sea, and also constructed numerous edifices, gardens, monumental gates, mosques (whence the city's nickname of "City of a Hundred Minarets") and the large line of wall, having a length of 40 kilometres (25 miles).

According to the ICOMOS Heritage at Risk report of 2000, the historic city of Meknes contains insufficient drainage systems, and as a result suffers from inundation and leakage in certain areas.[7]

Geography[edit]

Neighboring cities to the south of Meknes: Azrou, connecting via the N13 road, is a cedar region with the noted "College d'Azrou" where many members of the post-independence elite derived); and Ifrane (Al Akhawayn University).

Climate[edit]

Meknes has a Mediterranean climate with continental influences. Its climate is similar to that in Sevilla. The temperatures shifts from cool and cold in winter to hot days in the summer months of June–September. The nights, however, are always cool (or colder in winter), with daytime temperatures generally rising 10-14C above the low every day. The winter highs typically reach only 15.5 °C (59.9 °F) in December–January, whereas night temperatures average 3 °C (37 °F). (see weather-table below).

It rarely snows in Meknes.

Climate data for Meknes (1961–1990, extremes 1919–1993)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 26.9
(80.4)
28.7
(83.7)
32.6
(90.7)
36.4
(97.5)
40.4
(104.7)
43.9
(111)
45.2
(113.4)
46.2
(115.2)
43.0
(109.4)
37.7
(99.9)
36.4
(97.5)
27.1
(80.8)
46.2
(115.2)
Average high °C (°F) 15.3
(59.5)
16.6
(61.9)
18.6
(65.5)
20.0
(68)
23.8
(74.8)
27.8
(82)
32.7
(90.9)
32.6
(90.7)
29.6
(85.3)
24.5
(76.1)
19.3
(66.7)
15.6
(60.1)
23.0
(73.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.2
(50.4)
11.5
(52.7)
12.9
(55.2)
14.4
(57.9)
17.7
(63.9)
21.2
(70.2)
25.2
(77.4)
25.3
(77.5)
22.9
(73.2)
18.7
(65.7)
14.2
(57.6)
10.7
(51.3)
17.1
(62.8)
Average low °C (°F) 5.2
(41.4)
6.3
(43.3)
7.2
(45)
8.8
(47.8)
11.5
(52.7)
14.6
(58.3)
17.7
(63.9)
17.9
(64.2)
16.2
(61.2)
12.8
(55)
9.1
(48.4)
5.8
(42.4)
11.1
(52)
Record low °C (°F) −4.2
(24.4)
−2.6
(27.3)
−0.8
(30.6)
0.5
(32.9)
0.4
(32.7)
5.2
(41.4)
7.2
(45)
9.0
(48.2)
5.0
(41)
2.2
(36)
0.0
(32)
−3.0
(26.6)
−4.2
(24.4)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 89.4
(3.52)
84.4
(3.323)
78.4
(3.087)
74.3
(2.925)
42.6
(1.677)
12.5
(0.492)
2.1
(0.083)
1.9
(0.075)
14.1
(0.555)
47.4
(1.866)
79.6
(3.134)
81.2
(3.197)
607.9
(23.933)
Average precipitation days 10.5 10.1 9.9 10.3 7.3 3.5 0.9 1.4 3.4 7.6 9.8 9.6 84.3
Average relative humidity (%) 75 78 76 75 72 68 57 57 62 70 72 77 70
Mean monthly sunshine hours 174.3 176.2 226.6 236.9 283.4 305.5 347.8 328.4 264.4 227.7 176.5 165.8 2,913.5
Source #1: NOAA[8]
Source #2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes and humidity)[9]

Quarters[edit]

  • Agdal
  • Al Bassatine
  • Ancienne Médina
  • Bassatine
  • Bab El Khmiss
  • Bel Air
  • Belle Vue (1, 2 et 3)
  • Berrima
  • Bni-Mhmmed
  • Borj Meshqoq
  • Borj Moulay Omar
  • Kamilia
  • Belle vue 3
  • Diour Salam
  • El Hedim Place
  • El Malah Lakdim
  • El Mansour (1, 2, 3 et 4)
  • El Menzeh
  • Ennasre
  • Hamria (new city district)
  • Hay Salam
  • Hacienda
  • Hay El Fakharin
  • Kasbat Hadress
  • Marjane
  • Mellah
  • Neejarine
  • Ouislane (municipality)
  • Place d'Armes
  • Plaisance
  • Riad
  • Roua
  • Rouamzine
  • Sbata
  • Sidi Amar
  • Sidi Baba
  • Sidi Bouzekri
  • Sidi Said
  • Touargua
  • Toulal (municipality)
  • Volubilis
  • Wjeh Arouss
  • Zerhounia
  • Zehoua
  • Zitoune

Prefecture[edit]

Main article: Meknès Prefecture

Meknes is the seat of the prefecture of Meknès, which consists of 6 municipalities (including the city Meknes) and 15 rural communes.[10]

Main sights[edit]

Médina - Historic City[edit]

Aerial view of the west part of Meknes Médina
  • Dar El Makhzen palace, located in El Mechouar Stinia. It is sided by a 2 km-long corridor formed by two large walls. It was Moulay Ismaïl's official palace.[11]
  • Bab Mansour gate, named after the architect, El-Mansour. It was completed 5 years after Moulay Ismail's death, in 1732. The design of the gate plays with Almohad patterns. It has zellij mosaics of excellent quality. The marble columns were taken from the Roman ruins of Volubilis. When the structure was completed, Moulay Ismail inspected the gate, asking El-Mansur if he could do better. El-Mansur felt complied to answer yes, making the sultan so furious he had him executed. Still, according to historical records, the gate was finished after Moulay Ismail's death. The gate itself is now used as an arts and crafts gallery; entry is by a side gate.
  • Lahboul gardens. It houses a zoological garden and an open-air theatre.
  • Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, built in 1703 by Ahmed Eddahbi
  • Koubat Al Khayatin ("Ambassador's Hall"): a pavilion in which sultan Moulay Ismaïl received foreign ambassadors.
  • Bab El Khemis: a large decorated gate from the 17th century.
  • Bab Berdaïne: a majestic gate built by Moulay Ismaïl in the 17th century.
  • Dar El Beida, a 19th-century palace built by sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah. It is currently home to the Royal Military Academy.
  • Royal stables
  • Agdal reservoir, built by Moulay Ismail. It measures 319 x 149 meters, with a depth of 2 m.
  • Cara subterranean prison.

The ruins of the Roman town of Volubilis (Oualili) are about half an hour to the north.

Mosques[edit]

Some of the historic mosques in Meknes include:

Néjjarine Mosque[edit]

Néjjarine Mosque built in the 11th century by Almoravids, located in the old city(médina). Actually the mosque is closed due to some maintenance work.

The Grand Mosque[edit]

The Grand Mosque built on a surface of more than 2,700 square meters, founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids. It has 11 gates and 143 arcades, a very old and historic library was established by the Marinids that actually still opens for readers. The Grand Mosque is situated in front of the Madrasa Bou Inania.

Panoramic view inside the Grand Mosque in May 2016
Minaret of the Grand Mosque.

Madrasas[edit]

Madrasa Bou Inania[edit]

Established by the Marinid sultan Abu al-Hasan and construction was completed by his son Abu Inan in 1345.[12]

Towers[edit]

Economy[edit]

Meknes is an economical center in Morocco with various products from the three economical sectors(Agriculture, Industry and Services), which makes the city economically competitive and attractive for investments.

Competitiveness[edit]

A December 2015 World Bank report classified Meknes as one of the three most competitive cities in Africa.[13] Two of those three competitive African cities are from Morocco: Meknes and Tangier.

Agriculture[edit]

Meknes is considered to be the capital of agriculture in Morocco. And the Saïss plain is one of the fertile and rich plains in Morocco and Meknes is the center of this plain. [14]

This image shows the geographical structure of the Saïss plain around Meknes area in Morocco.

Meknes city holds each year the International Agriculture Show in Morocco(French: Template:Salon International de l'Agriculture au Maroc) since April 2006. This agriculture show has an area of more than 250000 square meters, with more than 60 countries participating, and more than 1200 exhibitors.[15] The lands around Meknes area are known to be fertile and productive. The high elevation, fertility and the fresh water of those lands favor the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, most notably: peach, nectarine, prune, apples; potato, onion and garlic. Also, livestock raising, particularly sheep and cattle is widespread. Meknes has large industrial units for milk production and diary that fulfill the most of the needs of the region. Another agricultural product well known for its quality and taste in Morocco is the olive and olive oil from Meknes, and historically talking, Roman Volubilis was a major producer of olive oil.

Industry[edit]

Industry in Meknes is of light type, most of it is related to food processing especially in the Commune of Mejjat, and chemical and para-chemical industry in other industrial zones like the Agropolis industrial and agribusiness zone. Add to those the textile and metallic manufacturing which are old industries in the city. The year 2016 marks a new era of new industry in the city of Meknes, it includes electrical wire, embedded systems, and automotive parts production companies.

Major Companies[edit]

Name Year
Yazaki March 2016
Delphi Automotive 2016
Yura Corporation 2016

Meknes Agropolis[edit]

Agropolis is Morocco’s first competitiveness cluster dedicated to agribusiness. Its unique geographical location in central Morocco, together with its agricultural potential, makes it an attractive, rapidly developing platform. Agropolis welcomes investors in a first-class environment offering infrastructure that meets international norms as well as a wide range of real estate services, notably equipped plots of land and delegated management possibilities at competitive rates. Meknes Agropolis is the ideal ecosystem to implement a project focused on agribusiness, logistical activities and marketing, packaging units, tertiary activities, training and R&D.[16]

The first phase of the project has a land surface of 130 ha. The Agropolis Zone is 12 km from Meknes and 2.5 hours drive from Casablanca. Casablanca Port is 246 km far from Agropolis and Tanger-Med Port is 382 km away.

Services[edit]

Most of the services products in Meknes are related to Tourism due to the history of the old city district -Meknes Médina-. Of Morocco’s four Imperial Cities, Meknes is possibly the least well-known – not as large as Rabat, as fashionable as Marrakech, or as famous as Fez – and you might say that this is to its advantage as you’ll find this historic place quieter and more laid back than its sister cities. It’s an enchanting place to visit, with winding narrow streets, a classic medina and grand buildings that hail back to its time as the capital of Morocco. Nearby are the Roman ruins of Volubis and the tomb of Moulay Idriss – two of the most important historical sites in the kingdom. But Meknes is also a modern, lively city with a vibrant nightlife, plenty of bars and a welcoming attitude towards visitors.[17]

Transport[edit]

Road[edit]

The geographical location of the city of Meknes makes it one of the important transport hubs in Morocco. The city is accessed via the A2 expressway with two exits, one to the east of the city and another to the west.

Rail[edit]

Two train stations are located in the new city district(French: Ville Nouvelle) of Meknes, with trains each hour to the east, west, and north of Morocco. Operated by ONCF, the following table lists destinations reachable via Meknes railway stations(Round-trips):

Direction Route Frequency
West Fez - Meknes - Kenitra - Rabat - Casa Voyageurs Every 2 hours
West and South West Fez - Meknes - Sidi Kacem - Sidi Slimane - Kenitra - Salé - Rabat - Mohammedia - Casa Ain-Sebaa - Casa Voyageurs - Casa Oasis - Berrechid - Settat - Ben Guerir - Marrakesh Every 2 hours
North Fez - Meknes - Sidi Kacem - Ksar el-Kebir - Tangier - Ksar es-Seghir 6 trains a day
East Casa Voyageurs - Casa Ain-Sebaa - Mohammedia - Rabat - Salé - Kenitra - Sidi Slimane - Sidi Kacem - Meknes - Fez - Taza - Guercif - Taourirt - Oujda Two trains a day
West Meknes - Sidi Kacem - Sidi Slimane - Kenitra - Salé - Rabat - Mohammedia - Casa Ain-Sebaa - Casa Port 3 trains every Sunday PM

As mentioned above, Meknes city has two train stations, and their names are: Meknes Railway Station(French: Gare de Meknès) and Meknes Amir Abdul Qadir Railway Station(French: Gare de Meknès Amir Abdelkader). All the mentioned trains cited in the previous table stop by the former station; and except the first row of the table, all the remaining trains stop by the latter station.

Air[edit]

Meknes and its area are served by Saïss Airport (IATA: FEZICAO: GMFF).

Public Transport[edit]

Public transport in Meknes is managed by the urban commune and it consists of:

  • A large network of buses that cover all the area of the prefecture, and even outside of the prefecture like the line 16 to El Hajeb.
  • Taxis in the city exist in two types: small taxis with 3 places Max that work with fares system; and bigger taxis with 6 places Max that have a predetermined trajectory and fixed prices.

International relations[edit]

See also List of twin towns and sister cities in Morocco

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Meknes is twinned with:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mayor roles and responsibilities", Meknes Web Site, web: Meknes Web Site
  2. ^ "Prefect Biography", Meknes Web Site, web: Meknes Web Site
  3. ^ "Meknes Elevation and Altitude", Elevationmap.net, web: Map Website
  4. ^ "Official Report of General Census of Population and Housing, page 17", High Commission for Planning, web: HCP Web Site
  5. ^ http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/793
  6. ^ Template:Largest cities of Morocco
  7. ^ ICOMOS Heritage at Risk 2000
  8. ^ "Meknes Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 16, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Klimatafel von Meknès / Marokko" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961-1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  10. ^ Royaume du Maroc (20 November 2008). "Bulletin Officiel № 5684" (PDF) (in French). p. 1600. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Description of Dar El Makhzen"
  12. ^ "Bou Inania madrasa(in Arabic)", Meknes Web Site, web
  13. ^ "New Report Highlights the World’s Most Competitive Cities", The World Bank, web: World Bank Website
  14. ^ A. Essahlaoui, El A. Ouali. "Détermination de la structure géologique de la partie Sud de la plaine du Saïss (bassin de Meknès-Fès, Maroc) par la méthode géoélectrique", Springer Science+Business Media, May 2003. Retrieved on 8 May 2016.
  15. ^ "International Agriculture Show in Morocco", SIAM, web: SIAM Web Site
  16. ^ "English Presentation of Meknes Agropolis", MEDZ, CDG Group, web
  17. ^ "Official Meknes City Tourism portal"
  18. ^ "Ville jumelle: Meknes". City of Nîmes. Retrieved 2016-05-25. 

External links[edit]