Thursday, November 12, 2009

Details and Doorways

I can't resist sharing a bit of history with this post. Meknes is an imperial city; this means that a sultan, Moulay Ismail, called it his seat of power (in 1672). Moulay Ismail was known for fantastic building projects in Meknes: roads, granaries, stables, water reservoirs, mosques. He was buds with Louis XIV, who was building Versailles at the same time. Ismail was also a brutal ruler- putting Christian and African slaves to work on his projects and holding public executions. My favorite story of Ismail is that he requested Louis XIV's daughter to join his harem of many women. In declining such an offer, Louis XIV gave Ismail two clocks that now stand next to Ismail's grave.

Many of the photos in this post reflect this history.  In addition to huge structures, we also appreciated the detailed zellij tilework and painstakingly painted cedarwood.

First, the Koranic School (Bou Inania Medersa). This was built in the 14th century and therefore wasn't part of Moulay Ismail's contribution.  We stumbled upon this in the heart of the medina.

Looking through to the courtyard "pool"

A little tourist enjoys the straight lines in the courtyard.

A tall tourist enjoys the grandeur

Light from the courtyard shines into a student's cell. (There were about 60 such cells).

Tom makes this living space look a bit small...

Museum (Musee Dar Jamai), which is more like a home with artifacts than a museum.

Built in 1882, this used to be a palace of a grand vizier.

Tom demonstrates a doorway in the "music room"

Reconstruction of a traditional Moroccan room. The zellij tilework goes from floor to ceiling. The ceiling is carved and painted wood.

And now, some direct influence of Moulay Ismail.

 Grainstore stables- 29 aisles for storing grain.

Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail (aka where he's buried)

Fountains near Moulay Ismail's burial chamber.

 Calm, empty yellow rooms.

Wooden door and tiled walls.


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