Dar Jamaï Museum

Top choice museum in Meknès

Overlooking Place El Hedim is Dar Jamaï, a palace built in 1882 by the powerful Jamaï family, two of whom were viziers to Sultan Moulay Al Hassan I. Since 1920 the palace has housed a fine museum of traditional ceramics, jewellery, textiles and cedar-wood craft dating from the 14th century. The museum’s Andalusian garden and courtyard are shady, peaceful spots amid overgrown orange trees, brimming with bird life – the crumbling palace and gardens are well worth the admission fee in their own right.

Look out for the brocaded saddles, and some exquisite examples of Meknasi needlework (including some extravagant gold and silver kaftans). The koubba (domed sanctuary) upstairs is furnished as a traditional salon complete with luxurious rugs and cushions. The museum also has some antique carpets, representing various styles from different regions of Morocco. The exhibits are well constructed if a little dusty; explanations are in French and Arabic only.

The history of the palace is tumultuous: when Sultan Moulay Al Hassan I died in 1894, the Jamaï family fell foul of court politics and lost everything, including the palace, which was passed on to the powerful Al Glaoui family. In 1912 the French commandeered the palace for a military hospital, before it was taken over in 1920 by the Administration des Beaux Arts.