Thursday, 6 September 2012

Meknes - Bab Mansour

Bab Mansour the spectacular entrance to Moulay Ismail's new city is named for it's architect, El Mansour a christian convert. It is extremely well preserved and is a good opportunity to imagine the grandeur of Ismail's Meknes.
The city dates to the end of the 17th century and beginning of the 18th. Louis Quatorze was building Versailles at the time and Ismael's programme was a deliberate attempt to out-build and out-dazzle   that palace. The British equivalent was Blennheim being built by John Churchill but as a mere General he was never going to trump a King and a Sultan.
Bab Mansour was actually finished by El Mansour's son, Moulay Abdallah and the story is, although probably not strictly true, that Ismail on inspecting and admiring the work asked Mansour whther he could build an even better one. When he answered yes Ismail had him beheaded on the spot.
The columns were brought from Volubilis and set into an adaptation of Almohad design withn black and white zellij decoration.

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