1902 Encyclopedia > Mequinez, Morocco


MEQUINEZ (the Spanish form of the Arabic Mikndsa), a town of Morocco, the ordinary residence of the emperor, is situated in a fine hilly country about 70 miles from the west coast and 35 west-south-west of Fez on the road to Sallee, in 34° N. lat. and 5° 35' W. long. The town-wall, with its four-cornered towers, is kept in good condition; and a lower wall of wider circuit protects the luxuriant gardens with which the outskirts are embellished. In the general regularity of its streets, and in the fairly substantial character of its houses, Mequinez ranks higher than any other town in Morocco ; but it possesses few buildings of any note, except the palace, and the mosque of Mulei Ismael, which serves as the royal burying-place. At one time the palace (founded in 1634) was an imposing structure, but the finest part has been allowed to go to ruin. In 1721 Windhus described it as "about 4 miles in circumference, the whole building exceeding massy, and the walls in every part very thick ; the outward one about a mile long and 25 feet thick." The best part consisted of oblongs enclosing large open courts or gardens. Mortar or concrete was the principal material used for the walls, but the pillars were in many cases marble blocks of great beauty and costliness (A Journey to iliert-inez, London, 1725). Most of the inhabitants of Mequinez are connected more or less directly with the court. Their number has been very variously estimated by different travellers. Graberg de Heinso gives 56,000 in 1834, Rohlfs in 1861 from 40,000 to 50,000, and Conring in 1880 about 30,000. The town was formerly called Tal5arart. Edrisi refers the present name to a Berber chief Meknes.

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