Founded in the 11th century as an Almoravid fortress town, Meknes is a charming imperial city and former capital of Morocco just 40 miles south-west of Fes. Its regional importance can be traced back to the Sultan Moulay Ismail who in the 17th century set about transforming into a regional powerhouse replete with palaces, mosques, gardens and mansions. Sadly, the sultan died before his grand plan was completed and over time Meknes’ prominence slowly ebbed away. Today, under UNESCO patronage, the city is slowly restoring the crumbling monuments to their former glory. Stay a few days, and you can visit the Bou Inania Medersa, the impressive Bab Al Mansour Gateway and Moulay Ismael’s mausoleum before heading into the surrounding countryside.