Heri es-Souani, an ancient grain container, Meknes, Morocco; Shutterstock ID 32782828; Your name (First / Last): Lauren Keith; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: BiT 2019 destination page update

Heri Es Souani


Moulay Ismail considered this early-18th-century complex one of his finest architectural projects, and on paper it's a marvel. The massive, thick-walled, barrel-vaulted granaries (tribes paid taxes in grain) were kept cool through a system of underfloor water channels, drawing from a cistern below. Outside to the west are the remains of stables for a supposed 12,000 horses. In practice, unless you're particularly interested in water engineering, there is not much to see, considering the rather steep admission price.

If you do visit, don't miss the room tucked away in the far right corner of the granary, where a noria is installed. The horse-driven water wheel would have once drawn up buckets of water from the cistern. Beyond the granary lie the stables, with row upon row set at angles to give the stable masters maximum visibility of their steeds across a huge area. Its flat roof likely collapsed during an 18th-century earthquake.

In summer, it’s a long (2km) hot walk from Moulay Ismail’s mausoleum, so you might prefer a taxi or horse carriage. If you 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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Meknes attractions

1. Agdal Basin


Adjacent to the Heri Es Souani lies an enormous stone-lined lake, the Agdal Basin, built in the 18th century as both a reservoir for Moulay Ismail's…

2. Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail

0.77 MILES

Closed since 2016 for a massive renovation, the final resting place of the sultan who made Meknes his capital in the 17th century is ordinarily a must-see…

3. Koubbat As Sufara

0.82 MILES

Moulay Ismail's reception hall for foreign ambassadors is a lovely show of zellige (patterned tile) work. It's here that Unesco officially inscribed…

4. Palais Al Mansour

0.85 MILES

Moulay Ismail's summer palace, built in the countryside in the 17th century, now sits in the middle of the urban fabric of Meknes – there's even a…

5. Place Lalla Aouda

0.88 MILES

South of Bab El Mansour lies this public garden and car park that's a popular place with local families in the evening – less raucous than Place El Hedim,…

6. Bab El Mansour

0.92 MILES

The focus of Place El Hedim is this huge gate, perhaps the grandest of all imperial Moroccan gateways. The gate is well preserved, if a bit dulled by soot…

7. Musée de Meknès

0.93 MILES

Housed in the peeling old tribunal building in the imperial city walls, this small museum is long overdue for a refresh, but while the larger Dar Jamaï…

8. Place El Hedim

0.98 MILES

Cleared by Moulay Ismail so his populace could better admire Bab El Mansour, this square is the social heart of the medina, and it really livens up at…