A man pulls a handcart down a narrow lane through the medina of Meknès.

Finding my Lodging in the Medina

Into the Medina

I had just arrived on a train from Tangier and now I had to find where I was staying. I took a petit taxi from the train station to Place el-Hedim, a large open square within the walled old city. From there I would walk into the medina.

Traveling across Meknès by petit taxi.

The Sultan Moulay Isma'il ibn Sharīf ruled Morocco for 55 years, from 1672 to his death in 1727, the longest rule of any Sultan of Morocco. He made Meknès his capital, and undertook huge building projects in the city. It's estimated that from 25,000 to 55,000 laborers were needed for the projects. They were a mix of paid workers and slaves.

Legends are still repeated today about the Sultan owning several tens of thousands of Christian slaves, keeping them in huge underground dungeons when they weren't working on demolition and construction projects.

The reality was that there were a few thousand Christian slaves at most. The "dungeons" were storage facilities for grain and other supplies. The exaggerated legends came from the reports sent back by European ambassadors who had gone to Meknès to negotiate for the release of their citizens.

El-Hedim means "The Rubble", referring to the huge pile of debris collected here when an earlier part of the Kasbah was demolished. Here's the view from the street. The first stage was to walk all the way across Place el-Hedim to the medina wall at its north end.

Place el-Hedim in Meknès.

Dar Jama'i houses a great museum that I would visit later. Its entrance is at right here. The gateway into the medina is just to the left of the similarly shaped gateway into the museum. It's largely hidden by the tables and umbrellas of the shoe salesmen.

Gateways leading into Dar Jama'i and into the medina in Meknès.

Here's the same area in the early evening, when the gateway into the medina is easier to spot.

Lighted gateway leading into the medina in Meknès.

First you go back this lane for about sixty meters. Shoes and all sorts of clothing are on display.

Making my way through the medina in Meknès to my guesthouse.
Making my way through the medina in Meknès to my guesthouse.

Turn right at the tee.

An intersection of two primary lanes through the medina in Meknès.

Continue for about a hundred meters on this prominent lane through the medina.

Two women walking through the medina in Meknès.
A man pulls a handcart along a primary lane through the medina in Meknès.

Step to the side as needed because people are delivering goods, working on furniture, setting up sales displays, and otherwise keeping the passageway busy.

There are some riads or ryads now operating as guesthouses. A riad is a sturdy structure built around a central courtyard. Mine is one of them, a little further along.

Making my way through the medina in Meknès to my guesthouse.
Making my way through the medina in Meknès to my guesthouse.
A sign for my guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.

Above is the sign for mine, Riad Ma Bohème. Opposite that sign a small passageway leads off to the right of the lane that I'm on.

The guesthouse is on the left side of this passage, about fifteen meters off the main lane.

Narrow passage off the main lane through the medina in Meknès.
Mysterious doors on a side passage through the medina in Meknès.

But which of the two heavy unmarked doors is it?

The address I had was "4 Derb Sekkaya Tiberbarine". A derb is a small side lane, often like a narrow hallway. Like this one.

The electrical meters told me where door #4 was in derb Sekkaya Tiberbarine.

Electrical meters in the medina in Meknès.

It's the one with the wooden face. The doorbell switch is, as usual, near the top of the door.

Mysterious door on a side passage through the medina in Meknès.

Very little was visible outside. Once inside you stepped through an entry hall and into the central courtyard.

Courtyard in my guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.
Courtyard in my guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.
Courtyard in my guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.

The guestrooms are above, along a passageway that goes around the courtyard.

Courtyard in my guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.
Staircase to my room in a guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.

A second set of stairs leads up to a rooftop terrace.

Hallway to my room in a guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.
Hallway to my room in a guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.

My room was at the end of the passage. I noticed so much art, prints of paintings and drawings and photographs, in the guesthouses throughout Morocco.

Hallway to my room in a guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.

And finally, I reached my room.

Two beds and a table in my room in the medina in Meknès.
My room in a guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.
Guesthouses at Booking.com

I had my own bathroom, with my own hot water heater.

The room was just about US$ 20 per night through booking.com. Like all the rest of my Moroccan lodging outside Casablanca, you can reserve on booking.com with a credit card but you pay in dirhams when you arrive.

My bathroom in my guesthouse in the medina in Meknès.

I got settled in, then went out to a café on Place el-Hedim to watch the people over a glass of mint tea.

Sweet tea on Place el-Hedim in Meknès.

I could sit there and plan the next stage of my trip, a day trip to Volubilis.

Next❯ A day trip to Volubilis