Although this twin-hill town is a veritable maze of narrow lanes and dead ends, it is not hard to find the few points of interest. The first is the Mausoleum of Moulay Idriss, the object of veneration and the reason for the country’s greatest annual moussem in late August. An important pilgrimage for many, including the royals, it is accompanied by fantasias, markets and music. It’s said locally that five pilgrimages to Moulay Idriss during the moussem equals one haj to Mecca.
From the main road (where buses and grands taxis arrive), head uphill and bear right where the road forks. You’ll quickly find yourself on the wide square of Pl Mohammed VI, lined with cafes – a great place to sit and watch the pace of life. At the top of the square is the entrance to the mausoleum via a three-arched gateway at the top of some steps, surrounded by shops selling religious goods to pilgrims. Not far inside there’s a barrier, beyond which non-Muslims cannot pass. Moulay Ismail created this pilgrimage site by building the mausoleum and moving the body of Moulay Idriss, in a successful attempt to rally the support of the faithful.
From here, head left up into the maze of streets to find your way to a couple of vantage points that give good panoramic views of the mausoleum, the town and the surrounding country. Plenty of guides will offer their services – you can get an informative, entertaining tour for as little as Dh30.
If you don’t feel like being guided, head back to the fork and take the road heading uphill, signposted to the Municipalité. Near the top of the hill, just before the Agfa sign, take the cobbled street to the right. As you climb up you’ll notice the only cylindrical minaret in Morocco, built in 1939. At the top of the hill ask a local for the grande terrasse or petite terrasse. These terraces provide vantage points high above the mausoleum and most of the town.