This peaceful and spiritual resting place of Sultan Moulay Ismail is one the few sacred sites in Morocco open to non-Muslims. Constructed during his lifetime, Ismail chose this location as it had once housed Meknes's Palais de Justice (courthouse), and he hoped in death to be judged in his own court by his own people. A nondescript building from the outside, the serenity of the series of pale-yellow courtyards leading to the tomb is in contrast to the turbulent and cruel reign of Ismail while he was alive. In the far left corner of the last courtyard is a door that leads into the sanctuary -- completely renovated in the 1950s by King Mohammed V -- in which the sultan is buried. Respectfully remove your footwear before entering. The anteroom to the tomb has walls with a series of levels consisting of exquisite zellij tiling, enamel-painted wood, elaborately carved plaster, graceful arches, and marble columns. This is a beautifully cool and tranquil room, and grass mats on the floor allow for rest and quiet contemplation. To the right of this is the tomb itself, of which non-Muslims cannot access, but it's visible from the anteroom through a Moorish doorway. Two antique clocks, one on each side of the doorway, were gifts from Louis XIV, which the king is said to have sent when he refused Ismail's request to add his daughter, Princess de Conti, to the sultan's harem.
- © Frommer's 2013
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