fes, a city steeped in mystique and enchantment, holds an extraordinary place in Morocco’s landscape. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it boasts the oldest and grandest medina in North Africa. Once the capital of Morocco, Fes remains a revered cultural hub, pulsating with history and tradition. Step inside the medieval walls of the medina to embark on a sensory journey—find towering displays of vibrant spices, witness artisans crafting traditional wonders, immerse yourself in the steamy tranquility of hammams, and glimpse the ancient artistry of the tanneries. Here, the past thrives alongside the present, offering an immersive experience that beckons exploration.
1- Lose Yourself in the Fes Medina
The medina of Fes, known as Fes el Bali, stands as a testament to time, tracing its origins back to the 9th century, making it not only the oldest but also the largest in North Africa. Its historical eminence and profound cultural relevance have earned it the prestigious designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site
2- Alqarawiyyeen mosque
The Al Quaraouiyine, established in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri, stands among the oldest universities globally. Presently functioning as a mosque that’s restricted to non-Muslims, its historical significance resonates deeply. However, a captivating facet open to the public is its renovated library, a treasure trove housing ancient knowledge. Renovated in 2016, it unveils exquisite, handcrafted tilework dating back to the 9th century—an artistic testament to its rich heritage, nearby rooftop restaurants within the medina offer a perfect vantage point to behold the mosque courtyard, providing a picturesque view of this historic site
3- Take in the Smells of the Tanneries
The unique place in Fez, the oldest tannery globally, remains an enduring emblem of medieval craftsmanship. Here, amidst a backdrop of surrounding houses and shops, men diligently practice the ancient art of leather-making. The tannery’s operation, unchanged through centuries, preserves tradition within its massive expanse. Visitors are greeted by an intense aroma from the dyeing process, prompting the wise precaution of carrying a scarf to shield against the strong scent. Alternatively, mint leaves are often provided for this purpose. Amidst this sensory experience, the tannery serves as an excellent venue to procure leather souvenirs, each item carrying the essence of this historic craft
4- Medersa Bou Inania
the ancient medina sits the illustrious former theological college, once a haven for Muslim scholars. Commissioned by Sultan Bou Inan during the 14th century, this architectural gem stands meticulously restored, a testament to its former grandeur. Adorned with breathtaking mosaics, intricate carved plaster, and elegant cedar mashrabiyas (lattice screens), its magnificence captivates every passerby. Entering unveils a world of splendor—a courtyard boasting a serene fountain amidst walls adorned with meticulously hand-carved designs and stunning zellij (mosaic) tilework. Across two floors lie chambers that once hosted enlightening classes, preserving the essence of a scholarly past within its resplendent walls
5- Al-Attarine Madrasa
Al-Quaraouiyine Mosque and adjacent to the vibrant Al-Attarine Souk, the Al-Attarine Madrasa stands as a historical marvel. Erected between 1323 and 1325 and bearing the namesake of the bustling market, this madrasa served as an extension to the mosque, sharing its ornate design language. Adorned with resplendent green and blue zellij tile work, intricately carved plaster, and fragrant cedar wood, its architectural finesse mesmerizes visitors. Within its walls lie indoor classrooms steeped in history and a serene courtyard graced by a central fountai
6- The Royal Palace Dar Al-Makhzen
The royal palace in Fes offers a captivating sight despite its restricted access to tourists, as it remains in use by the royal family and government. Its exterior, a spectacle of blue mosaic tile walls and grand bronze doors, stands as a testament to its regal splendor. Despite the inability to explore its interior, witnessing this architectural gem ranks high among Fes’ attractions. Adjacent to the palace lies the lush greenery of the palace gardens, inviting visitors to stroll and admire their beauty. Adjacent to these gardens rests the grand mosque, Fes el-Jdid, boasting a magnificently adorned minaret that further enriches the area’s architectural allure.
7- Beautiful Fes Carpet
carpet of fez , a city renowned for its traditional craftsmanship, is a hub for exquisite Moroccan carpets.
Handcrafted by skilled artisans using age-old techniques, Fez carpets showcase intricate designs, vibrant colors, and high-quality wool or silk materials.
These carpets often feature geometric patterns or intricate motifs that reflect Berber, Arab, and Moorish influences, representing a rich cultural heritage.
Visiting Fez allows one to explore its bustling souks, where the sights and sounds of carpet weaving workshops offer a glimpse into the artistry and craftsmanship behind these treasured Moroccan rugs.
8- Where to Stay in Fes
Staying in a traditional riad in Fes offers an immersive experience into Moroccan culture and tranquility after exploring the city’s vibrant offerings. Riads, nestled in the historic quarters, typically feature serene courtyards or pools, providing a peaceful retreat amidst the city’s hustle and bustle
This area of thousands of blindingly white tombs, all freshly painted in 2019, was established in 1883. You’ll find the tombs of a few notables, such as the 19th-century martyr Solica, venerated by Jews and Muslims alike, and assorted rabbis, though some have been reinterred in Israel. Entrance is on the northwest corner.
The blue-painted tomb belongs to Solica, also known as Sol Hachuel and Lalla Suleika, born in Tangier in 1817. The local governor is said to have offered her great wealth to convert, so that her beauty would be a credit to the Muslims – and then tortured her when she refused. She was transferred to Fez, where she was beheaded in 1834, at age 17. For her steadfastness, she is also venerated by Moroccan Muslim women. A black-and-white tomb with a large fireplace for burning candles (the Sephardic cemetery ritual) belongs to Rabbi Yehuda Ben Attar (1655–1733), who, the story goes, was imprisoned by the sultan in order to raise ransom money; the Jewish community had already been taxed to poverty, though, and the rabbi was thrown to the lions. When he began to pray, the lions sat quietly in a row, as if they were his students. The apparent miracle earned him his freedom and the sultan’s apology. Longtime caretaker Edmond Gabay maintains a museum (borderline junk shop) in the old Em Habbanim school on the northeast edge; ask around for him if you’d like to see inside.
This is a slightly odd opportunity to tour someone’s home and personal art gallery, which also happens to be a deeply dilapidated 18th-century palace, built by a pasha from Marrakesh. The main courtyard, with double-size salons, is the height of Andalusian style and includes a well-preserved early-20th-century bathroom, still in use today. Pass through the dim, enormous kitchen with gigantic cooking pots to reach the smaller harem court in back. Caretaker Abdelkhader’s obsessive pointillist paintings fill one major salon.
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FES Destination is experiences in the heart of Morocco’s cultural capital, showcasing the rich history and vibrant atmosphere through expertly curated tours. Explore streets, ancient landmarks, and authentic local culture and unforgettable adventure