The rich history of Fez, the ancient capital of Morocco, endowed it with two “old cities” at once – medinas. The royal palace, the Jewish cemetery and the Buzhelud gardens are Fes el-Jdid. The most confused medina in the world is Fes el Bali, where there are 14 gates, 6,000 streets, 200 mosques and 180 hammams.
Fez is not only the oldest of the four imperial cities and the fourth largest city in Morocco. It is also a monument to three eras at once, reflected primarily in the architectural appearance of the ancient city. Like many ancient capitals, Fes is located quite far from the coastline, so the best time to relax there is April-May or October-November, when it’s not very hot and you can walk around the city to your heart’s content. Check liuxers for customs and traditions of Morocco.
Throughout the vast territory of the Fess medina, it is forbidden to travel by motorized means. The future belongs to donkeys, porters and cyclists!
How to get there
Among the airlines that offer flights to Fes, there is not a single Russian one, so you will have to fly with a transfer. Flights from London, Paris, Girona, Madrid, Seville, Alicante, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Milan, Pisa, Bologna and Marseille fly to Fes-Saiss Airport.
If you are planning to visit more than one city in Morocco, then it is better to fly to Casablanca or Rabat, and from there by train to get to Fez (a train ticket will cost you 90-180 MAD).
If you arrive at Fes airport, it will be useful to know how to get to the city itself, because the airport is located 15 km from it. There are several options here, but the most budget one is to take bus number 16 (with a sign “Fez – Airport”). The bus runs every half an hour and costs 25 MAD one way. You can order a taxi, its cost is fixed – 150 MAD. If you arrive at night, it is advisable to take care of ordering a taxi in advance.
In addition, there are trains to Fez from Marrakesh and Tangier. Taxis can be taken from the train and bus stations to Meknes and Rabat.
In Fes, you need to buy what Fes provides all of Morocco. First of all, these are leather products – it is not for nothing that the tannery quarter is so popular. A leather bag will cost you 200-400 MAD depending on the quality. Drums and other percussion musical instruments are also quite cheap and relatively high quality here – from 20 to 150 MAD.
If you are interested not so much in bargains as in authentic souvenirs, then the choice is obvious – either these are traditional Moroccan grandmother slippers, or a tajine – a massive ceramic pot (10-50 MAD and it is yours). It is also worth asking the price of the products of copper and silversmiths.
If you are lucky enough to get to the pottery, then tajine can be made in front of your eyes, and within 45 seconds.
4 things to do in Fes
- Try not to get lost in the 6000 streets of the Old Medina.
- See the process of dyeing leather in the famous tannery quarter and buy a great bag for mere pennies.
- Admire the grandeur of the Royal Palace.
- Watch the sunset paint the beehives of the old houses of Fes el Bali in ocher tones.
Entertainment and attractions of Fes
Guests of Fez will be interested to see the 14th century Bou Inania Madrassah (a wonderful example of Islamic architecture with skillful carvings, patterns, Arabic calligraphy and a minaret), the Borj Nord and Borj Sud fortresses, the Qaraouyine library, the al-Tijani mosque and the Merenid Tombs located next to the hotel Merenid.
Traditionally, tourists in Fes are attracted by two ancient centers of different eras, which are monuments to different dynasties of Moroccan rulers – Fes el-Jdid and Fes el-Bali.
Fes el Bali, or Old Fes, is the oldest part of the city, having existed since the founding of Fes in 789. Fes el-Bali keeps the memory of the first dynasty of the rulers of Fes – the Idrisids, here is the mausoleum of Idris II – the son of the founder of the city. But Fes el Bali is not only memorial and religious buildings. The center of Moroccan science is also located here – the Islamic University of Al-Karouin. It was founded in the 12th century, but is still considered the second most important in the Muslim world after Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
The old medina, surrounded by the medieval wall of Fes el Bali, is one of the largest pedestrian areas in the world and is included in the UNESCO list. There is one of the most protected shrines of the city – the Moulay Idris mausoleum, the entrance to which is ordered to non-Muslims.
The second medina, Fes-Jdid, includes the Emir’s Palace, a minaret lined with polychrome tiles and the ancient Fes ghetto. Finally, the modern third part of the city, the so-called New Fes, is everything else.
Relatively close to Al-Qarween University is Shaura Tanners’ Quarter. Fes is famous for its handicrafts, but this quarter is especially popular with tourists – leather is processed here using the same technology as hundreds of years ago.
Going to visit the famous Fez leather dyers, it would be useful to take a sprig of mint or lemon with you – amber reigns in the workshops! For the same reason, it is better to visit the dyers in the morning, before the sun begins to heat the vats with the dyeing substance.