Meknes was the capital of Morocco under the reign of Moulay Ismail, with more than 50 palaces within the exterior walls, which had more than 20 gates. It was named after a Berber tribe, known as Miknasa.
The Ville Imperiale is the remains of Ismail’s buildings, with palaces, gardens and stables, set within walled enclosures. Ismail’s mausoleum is considered to be an Islamic site and one of the only ones in Morocco that will allow non-believers into parts of it. Bab el-Mansour is one of the finest gates, with columns being taken from Volubilis and used in its design. The gate is now used as an arts and crafts gallery. Th granaries are striking, with high, thick walls and were used as a location for the film, The Last Temptation of Christ.
The medina is lively, with distinct quarters for similar shops and professions - jewellery, metalwork, leather. There is also quite a large covered market area. The quality of goods is good and it is a more affordable medina to buy in (rather than Marrakech or Fes). The olive market is renowned, with olives from all over Morocco on sale.
Today the city is the centre of a productive area, producing olives, wine, cereal crops and citrus.
Ouarzazate originally was a small trader town enroute to Europe and northern cities in Morocco and was a garrison town ...