Qara prison in Meknes

  1. The prisoners hold on.
  2. Strength and firmness.
  3. But what about the life of the inmates on a day-to-day basis?
  4. Opening hours.
  5. Where to stay in Meknes.

During the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismael, the Qara prison was created in Meknes. An underground labyrinth full of stories, anecdotes and even myths...

How many legends surround the story of Qara's captivity? The place, in the center of Meknes, is a time machine. It was built in the time of Sultan Moulay Ismael (1672-1727), the first Alawite dynasty to rule Morocco.

The prisoners hold on.

The Qara prison is located in a closed field between the famous Lehdime square and Lalla Aouda square, to the right of the tomb of Moulay Ismael. Its names were difficult to understand: sometimes it was called "Christian prison" and other times "Sirdab" ("cellars" in French). The name "Qara" comes from a Portuguese prisoner who allegedly negotiated his release with the sultan in exchange for the construction of a prison with a capacity for 40,000 people. It was completed.

At first glance, only a few openings indicate the underground presence of the mysterious place. The heart clenches as soon as the first maze is completed, the eyes gradually adjust to the dark, and a heavy feeling crushes the stomach. Without the dim lights that dot the jail, visitors can quickly get lost in the endless corridors. In addition, the inscriptions remain visible on the walls, as permanent traces of the passage of lost souls in this desolate place.

According to legend, the prison once stretched for hundreds of kilometers. According to tradition, the walls of the penitentiary extended as far as Taza, near Fez. They were built with cement to prevent people from getting lost in the maze that is this place. Yet another story claims that a group of French scholars got lost there, forcing important sections of the jail to be closed.

Also check: Volubilis.

Strength and firmness.

The "Christian prison" was the official prison of Sultan Moulay Ismael, builder of the imperial city. It was a representation of his toughness and strength. It was located a few meters from the pavilion of the ambassadors, where the negotiators met to rescue the foreign prisoners of the sultan.

The France 2 chain goes so far as to affirm in a program about Moulay Ismael that the fate of a dozen French prisoners was being negotiated over them in the famous pavilion. To better understand these conversations, consider the following historical fact: During the golden age of looting, European ships and captives were often taken at sea. French royals had sent missions to retrieve the hostages three times without success.

But what about the life of the inmates on a day-to-day basis?

at Qara prison entrance

According to the magazine Le Zamane, the captives were thrown into the prison through a hole located on the structure. Likewise, food was delivered to them through a small opening. The detainees, who had been convicted but not killed, did not survive. They slept on the floor. The luckiest had goatskins to make their sleep more pleasant. They spent their days working hard, lifting heavy loads and destroying walls. Foreign captives played a key role in building the walls of the imperial city. Later, the Qara prison became a kind of granary to withstand the harsh conditions or crises that afflicted Meknes.

Opening hours.

If you want to go to the Qara prison, the hours are from 9 to 12 and from 15 to 18 hours. The entrance to the jail costs ten dirhams and the underground labyrinth takes about 20 minutes.

Where to stay in Meknes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go up

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience browsing it Read more