Place el Hedim has two gateways on its southeastern boundary - the Gate of Mansour to the north and the more modestly proportioned Bab Jamaa en Nouar to the south. Tradition claims that the Gate of Mansour was named after a Christian slave, Mansour the Infidel, but the gate's importance most likely underlies its name, as the word 'mansour' in Arabic means 'victorious.'
The Gate of Mansour al-Eulj is the monumental entrance to Meknes's imperial city and the focal point of Meknes's medina. It was commissioned by Ismail bin Muhammad I (1672-1727), also known as Moulay Ismail, sultan of the Alawi Sharifs, and was completed during the reign of his son, Moulay Abdellah, in 1732/1144 AH. Under Moulay Ismail's leadership, Meknes became the capital of Morocco. This change precipitated numerous monumental building projects, notably the replacement and expansion of city walls and gates.
The brick gateway measures nearly thirty meters wide and comprises a central portal with a wooden door flanked by two bastions that are both square in plan. The portal is composed of a pointed horseshoe arch opening measuring nearly 6.5 meters wide enclosed within a rectangular frame measuring nearly sixteen meters. Today the five-meter-square bastions have porticos at their bases created by two rounded horseshoe arches which are supported by squat marble columns, but photographs from the early twentieth century show that the northern bastion was once closed and without columns. Next to the horseshoe arches, a single Corinthian column projects from the outer corner of each bastion (protruding from the otherwise square plan). Connecting these structural elements are a parapet with corbelled pyramids set in relief, a calligraphic frieze, and a network of openwork arabesques and zillij designs in green and white.
The path to the imperial city is not straight, and behind the wooden door is a central chamber connected to five smaller, rectangular chambers. The central chamber measures seventeen meters by six meters and diverts passage to the imperial city by the placement of the entrance at the southwestern corner and the exit at the northeastern corner.
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Métalsi, Mohamed and Cécile Tréal and Jean-Michel Ruiz. 2000. The Imperial Cities of Morocco. Paris: Finest SA / Edition Pierre Terrail, 125-126.
McLachlan, Anne and Keith McLachlan. Morocco Handbook with Mauritania. 1997. Bath, England: Footprint Handbooks, 240, 242-243.
Sefiani, Kaoutar. 1992. Meknes: Rèperes del la Mémoire. Rabat: Royaume du Maroc, Ministre de L'Habitat, 9-17.