Moulay Idriss is a town and important religious site in northern Morocco that makes a good day trip from Meknes (along with nearby Volubilis). For many centuries it has been a place of pilgrimage, thanks to its tomb of the city's founder, Moulay Idriss el Akhbar, a decendent of the Prophet Muhammad.
History of Tomb of Moulay Idriss
Moulay Idriss el Akhbar was a great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad: his grandparents were Muhammad's daughter Fatima and Muhammad's cousin Ali.
Idriss was heir to the caliphate in Damascus, but after the civil war and Umayyad victory that led to the Shia-Sunni divide, he fled to Morocco. Arriving in 787, Moulay Idriss founded Morocco's first Arab dynasty.
He first came to power in Volubilis, the ancient Roman city that was then the main center of the north. He built his capital city on a nearby site that was more easily defended, which was later named Moulay Idriss after him. He also began construction on the city of Fes.
Word of Idriss' success reached the Umayyads in the east, and in 792 they had him poisoned. But his efforts and his kingdom lived on. His conversion of Morocco's mostly pagan Berber tribes to Islam and the support of many Arab Shiites loyal to the successors of the Prophet brought unity to the region.
After Moulay Idriss' assassination, his servant Rashid took over as regent until 807, when his son Idriss II was old enough to assume the throne of the Idrissid Dynasty.
Today, the tomb of Moulay Idriss, which was rebuilt by Moulay Ismail (1672-1727), is still much revered. It is the object of constant pilgrimage and hosts an important summer mousseum (festival) in the second week of August.
What to See at Tomb of Moulay Idriss
The main sight of this hilltop city is of course the tomb of Moulay Idriss, which is open only to Muslims. Good exterior views of it can be had from above and anyone can approach the entrance, which is blocked by a low wooden bar to keep animals out.
The best views of the tomb and the city can be had from the Restaurant Trois Boules d'Or (tel. 055 54 40 21; open daily 10-10) on the Terrasse Sidi Abdallah el Hajjam.
The winding streets on the way are a highlight of a visit to the town of Moulay Idriss, but it is easy to get lost. A young guide can be hired in the main square below.
Another interesting sight of Moulay Idriss is the Idriss Medersa, which was built from Roman materials taken from Volubilis. It has an unusual modern minaret (1939), which is cylindrical in shape and has a chapter from the Qur'an inscribed in green mosaics.
Quick Facts on Tomb of Moulay Idriss
|Names:||Tomb of Moulay Idriss|
|Dates:||17th C (current tomb)|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||34.054411° N, 5.522529° W|
|Address:||Moulay Idriss, Morocco|
|Hours:||None of the shrines in Moulay Idriss are open to non-Muslims.|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Tomb of Moulay Idriss|
- The Rough Guide to Morocco, 7th ed. (October 2004).
Map of Tomb of Moulay Idriss
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