Fes welcomes visitors to the North of Morocco, between the Rif and the Middle Atlas. Radiant and colourful, and since its creation in the Middle Ages, it is one of the four imperial cities of the country. A destination that makes art lovers dream as well as tourists. Getting lost in its souks, venturing into the narrow streets of the medina, or contemplating its most beautiful buildings with impressive mosaics, there is lots to discover. You still have some hesitations? Here are 10 good reasons to jet off to this exotic city.
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It is impossible to stay in Fes without mentioning its immense medina. Classified as UNESCO World Heritage in 1981, it is now one of the four oldest preserved imperial cities in Morocco, as well as being the largest and oldest medina in the world. Apart from the unmissable sites such as the Quaraouiyine mosque and the Andalusian mosque, you will discover all the facets of local history, customs and traditions in all their authenticity. Let yourself be carried away by the noise, the cries, the smells, the colours and above all, the conviviality of the places.
The Medina of Fes is a particularly large site. You can venture into this impressive structure and lose yourself voluntarily in its alleys, or follow the thematic itineraries. Each course is identified by a colour. The itinerary walls and fortifications reveal the authenticity of the architectural heritage of the medina, while the craft circuit quickly leads visitors to the souks. The itinerary palaces and Andalusian gardens are devoted to the Arab-Andalusian civilisation.
In Fes, we discover a small town in the city. Known as El Jedid and built in the 13th century to revive the city, it has become the privileged site of the various traders. In its rather peculiar decoration in the style of the former royal district, there are various shows, such as the snake charmers. Also take time to discover its emblematic places, such as the Place des Alaouites, Jewish quarter of Mellah, the sumptuous Royal Palace Dar El Makhzen and its royal gardens.
The Quaraouiyine Mosque was built in 859 by Tunisian refugees and has a capacity of 20,000. This high place of the Muslim religion also hosts one of the oldest universities in the world that is still active. It even houses a library with an exceptional collection of illuminated items. The site is closed to non-Muslims, but you can still enjoy the splendour of its interminable colonnades from the gates that lead to the As Sepharine and Talaa Kebira squares.
The visit to the museums is an activity in its own right in Fes. At the Museum of Arms in an imposing 16th century fort, you will discover an impressive collection of ancient weapons, some of which date back to prehistory. The Nejjarine Museum of Arts and Crafts presents, for its part, a multitude of traditional objects, such as prayer beads, various tools of craftsmen, musical instruments or various elements of Berber ironwork. Moroccan art and crafts are visible at the Batha Museum. Here you will find, among other things, colourful Berber carpets, a selection of zelliges and carved stucco recovered from the ancient medersas or magnificent embroidery.
Crafts are one of the most beautiful attractions of this Moroccan destination. Plan a stop at the henna souk. Apart from the traders who offer henna in all its forms, you will also discover rustic pottery. Outside the medina, the district of potters is also worth a visit. The trays of copper and bronze are other objects that are found especially on the Seffarine square.
Visiting the open-air Chouara tannery, considered to be the most important in Morocco, is an unusual experience. Established more than 1,000 years ago and located near Place As-Seffarine, it is one of the highlights of local tourism. It is better to go there in the morning, when the tanners are in full activity. With a bit of luck, you will be able to circulate between the tanks filled with dyes. Some sellers will be delighted to explain the process of tanning, in exchange for a purchase or a small tip. You can also admire the spectacular panorama of all the vats from the terrace of the cafes and the surrounding restaurants.
For several years, Fes hosts the famous Festival of the sacred music of the world. If you decide to visit in June, you will have the privilege of participating in a unique event that brings together a myriad of artists from around the globe who come together around a common passion. Many concerts are usually held at the Batha Museum or on the square in front of Bab Bou Djeloud.
Fes contains surprising places, including its Koranic school: the Medersa Bou Inania. Built between 1350 and 1357 by the Sultan Bou Inan, it has since been fully restored. In the majority of cases, a medersa has only one prayer room. Bou Inania, on the other hand, has a mosque identifiable by its splendid green minaret, and a mihrab built with several columns made of onyx.
By crisscrossing the city of Fes, you will certainly be amazed by the beauty of its doors. Reflecting the Arab-Andalusian style, each of them has its own history and its little anecdotes. The Bab Boujloud door in enamelled ceramics stands at the main entrance of the medina. Near the wall that connects the districts of Fes El Jedid and Fes El Bali, you will not miss the Bab Chorfa gate.
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