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Moulay Idriss/Morocco

Introducing Moulay Idriss

The picturesque whitewashed town of Moulay Idriss sits astride two green hills in a cradle of mountains slightly less than 5km from Volubilis, and is one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites. It’s named for Moulay Idriss, a great-grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of the country’s first real dynasty, and Morocco’s most revered saint. His tomb is at the heart of the town, and is the focus of the country’s largest moussem every August.

Moulay Idriss fled Mecca in the late 8th century in the face of persecution at the hands of the recently installed Abbasid caliphate, which was based in Baghdad. Idriss settled at Volubilis, where he converted the locals to Islam, and made himself their leader, establishing the Idrissid dynasty.

Moulay Idriss’ holy status kept it closed to non-Muslims until the mid-20th century, and its pious reputation continues to deter some travellers. However, the embargo on non-Muslims staying overnight in the town has long disappeared, and local family-run guesthouses have started to open to cater to visitors. Those who do stay are invariably charmed – it’s a pretty and relaxed town with a centre free of carpet shops and traffic, and offers a chance to see Morocco as Moroccans experience it.

The main road leading from the bus/grands-taxis stand to the square (Place Mohammed VI) has a Banque Populaire ATM, and a couple of internet cafes.