Moulay Idriss is not on every travellers agenda, even though it’s considered the holiest city of Morocco. For good reason. Until 2005, non-Muslims were not permitted to stay overnight in Moulay Idriss. Guide books warned the tourists who “dared” to visit to be out of town by 3pm.
We were yet again on a road trip through Morocco, this time our journey would take us all the way to Mauritania, but before, we wanted to explore the northern parts a bit more. Moulay Idriss made its way onto our map, because we wanted to see for ourselves, what made this city so holy.
We arrived in Tangier with the ferry from Geneva and had already passed beautiful Chefchaouen. Moulay Idriss would be our next destination before continuing to Fez. We heard that it was considered an alternative to the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca by many Moroccans. It was here that Moulay Idriss I, the great-great-great grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, arrived in 789, bringing with him the religion of Islam, and starting a new dynasty. In addition to founding the town named after him, he also initiated construction of Fez, continued later by his son, Moulay Idriss II.
Given its picturesque setting, colourful streets, historic core and Moroccan importance, it’s a mystery why not more tourists visit. It’s lack of popularity is a good thing though, because you can often have the place all to yourself. And it’s safe to say that the city will surprise you with it’s beauty and calm atmosphere.
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