Written by Koentje3000 on 12 Feb, 2013
One of the holiest sites In Morocco is definitely the small town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, only 12.000 persons large, on the foot of the around 1100m (3500ft) high Zerhoun mountain. The town is named after Moulay Idriss I, a direct descendant from the Prophet…Read More
One of the holiest sites In Morocco is definitely the small town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, only 12.000 persons large, on the foot of the around 1100m (3500ft) high Zerhoun mountain. The town is named after Moulay Idriss I, a direct descendant from the Prophet Muhammad. He fled to this region from present-day Syria when the Abbasid dynasty took power there in the 8th century. He founded this town as well as Fes and made much progress in Islamizing the local berber tribes, a process that started hesitantly a century earlier with Andalusian attempts. Idriss I made this town the capital of his empire, which was due to its military victories bigger than present-day Morocco. He beautified the town with buildings partly made of the stones from nearby Roman site Volubilis. Due to the fact that his son Idriss II moved the capital to Fes, the town of Moulay Idriss remained small during the coming centuries.The town is located around 25km north of Meknes and 4km east of Volubilis, which receives much more visitors especially on tour buses. Local buses ply the route from Meknes to Moulay Idriss a few times a day or alternatively you can take an Ouezzane-bound bus north and have you dropped off on the main N13 road which only requires a 1km walk and allows you to appreciate the town from a distance. The whitewashed houses are beautifully situated on 2 opposing hills in the middle of the higher mountains of the Zerhoun range. In the valley between the 2 hills is the mausoleum of none less than Moulay Idriss I himself. The town’s main attraction cannot be visited by non-Muslims, something that was valid for the whole town until a century ago. Even recently, only Muslims were allowed to sleep in the town but luckily this has changed now. From the square in front of the mausoleum narrow roads and dead-end passages crawl uphill emulating a bigger town’s medina. You can wander around all by yourself or ask a local to show you around for a small fee. One passage lead to a good viewpoint, but also the hills around town provide full panoramas of the city. If you take the east road from the square, you can spot after about 1km the only cylindrical minaret in Morocco.Every year, but not on a fixed date as it follows the Muslim calendar, a moussem or religious festival takes place on this site to honour Idriss I. According to local beliefs a six-time visit to this moussem equals the Mecca-bound haj pilgrimage, hence its nickname as a poor man’s Mecca for people without the necessary fundings to travel all the way to Saudi-Arabia. It remains a very religious and pious affair, so take this into account when visiting.Close
Written by MarkG-Y on 05 Jun, 2005
Within sight of the ruins of Volubilis, a Roman administrative center in North Africa, lies the town of Moulay-Idriss, the burial site of the man considered the founder of the Moroccan state. A descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, Moulay-Idriss in Abdallah fled to Morocco to…Read More
Within sight of the ruins of Volubilis, a Roman administrative center in North Africa, lies the town of Moulay-Idriss, the burial site of the man considered the founder of the Moroccan state. A descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, Moulay-Idriss in Abdallah fled to Morocco to escape the persecution of the Abassid caliphate in Baghdad. He found a following among the Berbers and ruled for five years until his assassination by an agent of the Abassids. Moroccans consider the town that houses his remains a holy place. Non-Muslims may neither visit the tomb nor stay overnight in the town.
Built on hilly terrain, Moulay-Idriss is quite picturesque. Narrow, winding streets climb between whitewashed structures. The visitor who ascends the steep hillside reaps the reward of the stunning vista of the main portion of the town, including the green-roofed shrine lying below.