Fez and the Middle Atlas: Places to Explore


Moulay Idriss

Moulay Idriss is Morocco's most sacred town, the final resting place of the nation's religious and secular founder, Moulay Idriss I. It is said that five pilgrimages to Moulay Idriss are the spiritual equivalent of one to Mecca; thus the town's nickname: the poor man's Mecca. A view over the town is a panoramic and informative look at a provincial Moroccan village, but it must be said that Moulay Idriss, for all its importance to Moroccans, is of only marginal interest to visitors compared to other Moroccan sights and scenes. Non-Muslims are not allowed inside the tomb at all, and until recently were not allowed to spend the night in town.

A splash of white against Djebel (Mt.) Zerhoun, Moulay Idriss attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over Morocco to its moussem in late August or early September. Fantasias (Berber cavalry charges with blazing muskets), acrobats, dancers, and storytellers fill the town, while hundreds of tents cover the hillsides. Non-Muslims are welcome to attend the secular events.

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