Nearly 2km southeast of Moulay Ismail's mausoleum, the king's immense granaries and stables, Heri es-Souani, were ingeniously designed. Tiny ceiling windows, massive walls and a system of underfloor water channels kept the temperatures cool and air circulating. Incredibly the building provided stabling and food for 12,000 horses, and Moulay Ismail regarded it as one of his finest architectural projects. The giant vaults are impressive and atmospheric – particularly in the darkest corners – with original cedar wood doors leaning against the walls.
Look for the noria room where horses would have once drawn up buckets of water from underground. Beyond the granary lies the stables, with row upon row cleverly set at angles to give the stable masters maximum visibility of their steeds across a huge area. Its flat roof caved in during an 18th-century earthquake and it is thought that before this event the stables were seven times longer than what can be seen today – quite a vision!
In summer it’s a long hot walk here from Moulay Ismail’s mausoleum, so you might want to catch a taxi or calèche (horse-drawn carriage). If you do decide to walk, follow the road from the mausoleum south between the high walls and past the main entrance of the Royal Palace (no visitors) to find the entrance straight ahead.