Bienvenue à Meknès: An Architectural Paradise

Sydney Anderson is a student at the University of Tampa and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco.

As the jet-lag reluctantly subsided, I found myself totally immersed. I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces, in a distant land. Morocco seemed like worlds away from America.

Though Morocco was not completely foreign to me, the city of Meknès offered an entirely new perspective on the culture. Arriving from Casablanca I immediately noticed a variation in attire. People dressed more modestly in Meknès- a society that I quickly learned is predominantly traditional.

The cultural fusion has outlasted French imperialism, and remains prevalent in Meknès. Around the city you will find signs in both Arabic and French, and I have had the opportunity to speak both interchangeably.

In my opinion, the most fascinating features of Meknès lie in the city’s Medina. Meknès is full of hidden gems that offers intricate architectural designs often carved from cedar wood (found in the Atlas Mountains nearby). The architecture is dated enough to have been built prior to the French Protectorate, and remains untouched.


On our first excursion we were given the opportunity to explore the Medina with the on-site staff. During our tour we visited a school called “Bou Inania Madrasa” which I found to be unexpectedly breathtaking.

All of us spent a vast amount of time marveling over each minute detail, such as writing from the Qu’ran displayed over the walls.

The picturesque old school opened up onto a more run-down, decrepit area with another beautiful archway, likely also carved from cedar wood of the nearby Atlas Mountains.

As I continue to explore, I am mindful of the unique opportunity I’ve had to be able to explore a city with such intrinsic value. Every bit of architecture reminds me of the depth of this nation’s history.


The world awaits…discover it.

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