Moulay Ismail’s Shrine
The Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail in Meknes is the final resting place of one of Morocco’s most notorious sultans. Moulay Ismail was a member of the Alaouite Dynasty and the ruler of the country from 1672 to 1727.
In his time as sultan, Moulay Ismail gained a reputation for ruthlessness, earned due to his purges of anybody unwilling to support him and for megalomania, particularly when it came to creating monuments and palaces at the expense of destroying those built by others.
One famous casualty of Moulay Ismail is the El Badi Palace in Marrakesh, demolished for its materials. Nevertheless, Moulay Ismail was also known as a very effective leader, and his accomplishments included taking areas such as Tangiers and al-Mamurah from the British and the Spanish respectively.
Created by masses of slaves and criminal prisoners, the sultan oversaw the initial construction of his tomb. The Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail is a good example of the opulence of the sultan’s building style. Built around grand courtyards and fountains are rooms with intricate tiling and stucco walls adorned with fine objects such as clocks gifted to the sultan by his friend, the French king, Louis XIV.
Moulay Ismail was laid to rest in the mausoleum together with one of his (five hundred) wives and two of his (eight hundred) children. Ever since it was restored and reopened by the sultan Mohammed V, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail has been open to non-Muslims, although non-Muslims cannot approach the actual tomb.