Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Morocco Tour Part II: Meknes - Voloubilis - Chefchauen

Our tour across the Northern parts of Morocco continues. We left Fes and headed for another Royal City, Meknes, just a short drive from Fes. Meknes is the sixth largest city in Morocco and has the same kind of beautiful city walls as both Marrakech and Fes. It is a world heritage site by UNESCO since 1996 and has the nickname "City of a Hundred Minarets". There is a big royal palace in the centre of the town and we also saw a palace that belonged to the king's brother. 

A must-see in Meknes is the old medersa in the heart of the medina which resembles the koranic school in Fes with its arcitecture and amazing design. Another sight worth a visit is the old royal stables that was the home for some 12.000 horses in the 1700.
Bab Mansour Gate, completed in 1732.

Disco checking out the fountains of Meknes.

Meknes old city, founded in the 11th century.

The royal stables, where sultan Moulay Ismail kept his beloved 12.000 horses. We were told that each horse had its own slave.

The historic city walls, 40 kilometres long.

Per & Disco in front of the beautiful learning center Bou Imania Madrasa.

Details in the old religious school.

After Meknes we went on the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis that was founded in the 3rd century BC. This is an amazing archological site that takes your breath away with its well preserved triumphal arch, beautiful mosaic but also by its sheer size. 

Over 20.000 people live here for a few hundred years but was taken over by local tribes around 300 AD. In late 19th century the first excavations were carried out by the French rulers and it is still on-going, today there is still so much surface that hasnt been explored. We walked around the site with a local guide for about an hour, which is the minimum amount of time you need here, amazed by the historical monuments but also a bit disturbed by some tourists who were carelesly climbing and sitting on the pillars and old houses. 

The basilica of Volubilis, used for administration and Government.

Disco enjoying the history lesson.

The triumphal arch built in 217. The inscription on the top is still intact.

Amazingly well perserved mosaic can be seen all over the archological site.

Hi from Volubilis!

As an anecdote, the ruins can be seen in the movie "Patton" (1970) that was awarded with seven Oscars.

After being overwhelmed with the tides of history we went on to the town of Chefchaouen, "the blue city", in the Rif mountains, well known for its blue painted medina and easy access to haschish. It is a beautiful and fairytell like feeling to walk around in the old city and get lost in the alleys of same coloured houses. At the same time you are constantly, and completely openly, offered to buy grass. It is on the other hand almost impossible to get your hands on a glass of wine with your dinner. 

50 shades of blue

Chefchaouen was founded 1471 and was a part of Spanish Morocco 1920-1956.

The blue colour is said to represent the sky as well as the heaven.

Disco enjoying the blues.

It is also said that the blue colour keeps the mosquitos away.

The kasbah of Chefchaouen.

Rif Mountains outside Chefchaouen, the beautiful canyons and waterfalls have to be seen!

Riad Lina is the top rated hotel in town and where we stayed. A beautiful little place with a spa/hamam. We can strongly recommend it if you come here!

Our room at Riad Lina.

Riad Lina, where we stayed for two nights.

Riad Lina Spa

Bye from Chefchaouen!

Tomorrow the journey continues to a fourth Royal City, Rabat - stay tuned!