This week Moroccans from around the country gathered in Moulay Idriss for a festival celebrating the founder of Fez
|Huge crowds poured into Moulay Idriss all day|
Moulay Idriss Zerhoune is an ancient, beautiful and peaceful hilltop town resting against the Zerhoune mountains, just five kilometres from the roman Ruins of Volubilis, 20 minutes from Meknes and 90 minutes from Fez. It is also one of five Holy Cities in the Islamic world. For it is here that the Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss I is located.
Moulay Idriss I ruled between 788 to 791 AD. A descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, he was the founder of the Idrisid dynasty, considered responsible for the early Islamization of Morocco and Spain. Moulay Idriss I also initiated the building of Fez.
In Morocco, thousands of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Moulay Idriss Zerhoune and last week huge numbers arrived for the Moussem (celebration) of Moulay Idriss.
|The alley leading to the mausoleum|
All day people make their way to the mausoleum to make offerings and pay their respect.
People continue to arrive throughout the afternoon and quickly seek out vantage points, chat in the square or cafes. Many women find a local henna artist and have their hands and feet decorated.
The atmosphere is like a carnival with many people waving flags, carrying offerings and pictures of the King. The coffee shops were packed with men and women greeting one another; drinking; laughing and playing with their children.
|Henna designs at Moulay Idriss|
For those that are hungry there is food available everywhere.
|Ice cream sellers do great business in the heat|
Finally the sun sets and the moussem begins
Photos: Suzanna Clarke
This can be confusing as it appears to change each year. The Moussem of Moulay Idriss falls between July 8 and September 23.
Getting there.Take the train from Fez and get off at the 2nd stop in Meknes. (ticket 20 dirham for 2nd class). Take a small taxi to grands taxis station. Ask for Moulay Idriss. Cost for two people is 72 dirhams or if you share it - 12 dirhams per person.
In Moulay Idriss, leave the taxi and walk up the hill to the main square. Here you will find cafes and down one side street a lot of small street restaurants that serve good cheap food.
At the top of the square are steps leading to the Moulay Idriss Mausoleum, which on Muslims may enter. However you can take the stairs at the side of the entrance way and climb to the top of the city for a fabulous panoramic view.
Staying overnight and using Moulay Idriss as a base for visiting Volubilis is recommended. Book in advance on +212 (0) 642 247 793
Visit Dar Zerhoune at www.buttonsinn.com