Fez Travel Guide
Faded but stately, crumbling but proud, the 1,200-year-old walled city of Fez might well be the largest and most enduring and complete medieval Islamic settlement of the Arab world.
Fez is situated North of Marrakech, as the soul of spiritual, intellectual and cultural Morocco, it is also a city more serious and aloof than Marrakech.
Faded but stately, crumbling but proud, the 1,200-year-old walled city of Fez might well be the largest and most enduring and complete medieval Islamic settlement of the Arab world. It is without a doubt Morocco’s spiritual and cultural heart and the oldest of Morocco’s Imperial cities.
Fez, you will find, is an unmappable labyrinth of alleys, souks and cul-de-sacs and you have to develop an entirely new way to orientate yourself. Wandering at random, never quite knowing where you are and stumbling on a new treasure is part of the pleasure and the more you get lost, the more you discover, such is the beauty of Fez. However should you not wish to be ‘lost‘ in Fez, Hassan or a member of our extended team will help you navigate the city.
Fez appears to be suspended in time between the Middle Ages and our modern world. It is not a chic and glamorous city, unlike areas within the city of Marrakech. However, like Marrakech, it is a place that will stimulate your senses like no other, with haunting and beautiful sounds, infinite visual details and unfiltered odours around every corner!
It is a city that speaks to its residents and visitors alike in symbols, and you cannot fail to notice this. Few places on earth seem to imbued with buried meanings in the patterns of hand knotted carpets, in the tattooed faces of the Berber peasant women, in the ethereal swirls of carved plaster in it’s architecture, in the voices of the traditional Sufi and Gnanou singers, and in the techniques of expert craftsmen, abound in Fez.
Fez is the city to see the Bab Boujeloud landmark gate the principal entrance into the Fes el-Bali (The old Quarter) and souks of the same name, the beautiful Bou Inania Medersa, a medieval college with outstanding craftwork and one of great beauty, the magnificent Karaouiyine Mosque, one of the oldest and most illustrious Mosques in the western Muslim world, the El-Attarine Medersa a Muslim school considered to be one of the wonders of Moorish architecture and from up on the roof you can gaze in amazement at the view of the medieval medina and Colourful Dyers souk. Colour, colour everywhere!
From the 16th century ruins of the Merinid Tombs, you can pick out the city’s 365 mosques! While watching the sky of an evening swarm with thousands of swifts returning to their nests in the old city’s open-aired medieval tanneries, an iconic image associated only with Fez.
However, like Marrakech, to find yourself in Fez is to find yourself lost in time. The old city of Fez is one of the world’s last moving picture shows of medieval civilisation, with mosques, palaces, madrassas and a medina with crafts and trade that have barely changed in 1,000 years. And watch out for the donkeys with their overloaded backpacks. In Fez, you are required to squeeze yourself by them, everywhere!
To explore the warren of narrow passages, teeming souks, huddled housing, archaic industry and venerable mosques, is to find yourself in a space where elements of the Middle Ages never came to an end!
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