Fez and the Middle Atlas Sights

Habs Qara (Prison of Christian Slaves)

  • Pl. Lalla Aouda Map It
  • Meknes
  • Jail

Published 03/01/2016

Fodor's Review

After you pass through Place Lalla Aouda and Bab Filala, the pyramid-shape dome on the right side of the next square is the Koubba al Khayatine (Tailors' Pavilion), named for the seamsters who sewed military uniforms here. Originally known as the Koubbat as-Sufara (Ambassadors' Pavilion), this was where Moulay Ismail received ambassadors from abroad. The stairs to the right of the pavilion entrance lead down to storage chambers originally built as a prison by the Portuguese architect Cara, himself a prisoner who earned his freedom by constructing these immense subterranean slave quarters. Go below to see where the 60,000 slaves (of which 40,000 were reportedly Christian prisoners of war) were shackled to the wall, forced to sleep standing up, and ordered to work on the sultan's laborious building projects. Ambassadors visiting Meknès to negotiate the ransoms and release of their captive countrymen were received in the pavilion above, never suspecting that the prisoners were directly below them.

Sight Information

Address:

Pl. Lalla Aouda, Meknes, Meknès-Tafilalet, Morocco

Map It

Sight Details:

  • 10 DH
  • Daily 9–1 and 3–6

Published 03/01/2016

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