Meknes

The hilltop city of Meknes, one of Morocco's historic imperial cities, and one-time home of the sultanate, is a beautiful blend of the Arab, Amazigh, Jewish and French cultures of which modern Morocco is comprised.

Originally settled in the 9th century by a Berber tribe called the Miknasa, the city grew under different ruling dynasties, before becoming the imperial capital in 1672 under Sultan Moulay Ismail, whose reign is considered a golden age in the Morocco's history. His vision for the city led to the construction of numerous edifices that still stand today, including mosques, madrases, gardens and a 25 mile wall. Monuments such as the enormous and magnificent gate known as Bab-El-Mansour rival those found in more well-known destinations like Fes. Because of his prolific projects, he is often compared to his French contemporary, Louis XIV.

Some must-see sites in Meknes include the medina and the Old Mellah (Old Jewish Quarter).  There is also the Dar Jamaï Museum, a palace built in 1882 for the Jamaï family, as well as the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, the ornate tomb of the sultan who gave Meknes its imperial status. Also unmissable is the UNESCO site of Volubilis, the impressive ruins of a Roman city dating back to the 3rd  century BCE, located merely 40 minutes away from Meknes by car.