The city of Fez is recognized as the cultural capital of Morocco. Visiting Fez means discovering Morocco in an authentic way, and far from the mass tourism of the country’s other major cities. The city is full of small streets, and craftsmen working in the open air. Losing yourself in Fez is the best way to discover the city. However, some places are absolutely worth a visit:
The medina is simply the old town, the historical heart of Fez. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981, the district is made up of a maze of small, intersecting alleys, but also of most of the places of interest in the city of Fez: its souks, mosques, squares, etc. Most of the sites to visit date from between the 13th and 15th centuries. You can enter the medina from two main gates, both magnificent: the Bab Bou Djeloud gate, considered as the official entrance to the city, and the Bab Dekatène gate. Within the ramparts, the district is only pedestrian, so it is up to the donkeys to transport the goods.
You can’t visit Fez without going for a walk in one of the many souks of the city and admiring the know-how of the few thousand craftsmen who work there. The place is perfect to buy a souvenir typical of the city of Fez: jewellery, clothes, ceramics, etc. , which you will find in the middle of colours and smells. The potteries of Fez would be the most beautiful in Morocco, and the blue used for painting obtained from a recipe kept secret.
It is possible to discover the work of leather tanners in Fez. You can walk between the pools, and thus understand the different stages of leather work, but you can also take a look at the surrounding terraces to admire the tannery as a whole. The one in Chouara is the oldest (it was already open in the Middle Ages), and the most interesting.
The Karaouiyine mosque
The Karaouiyine mosque is in fact also a university, and not just any university. It is in fact the oldest university in the arable world still open today. As with all other mosques, its entrance is unfortunately forbidden to non-Muslims, but there is nothing to prevent them from admiring the finesse of the building’s exterior ornaments.
Medersas are old Koranic schools that can now be visited. The Bou Inania medersa, to the north of the medina, dates from the 14th century and is very impressive because of its oversized dimensions. The medersa Attarine is located in the heart of the medina. It is smaller, but its calligraphy and mosaics leave it nothing to envy to other medersas. The oldest of all dates from 1280, it is the medersa Seffarine, whose decorations are reminiscent of traditional Moroccan houses.
On this pretty square, and in the surrounding streets, the craftsmen work mainly with copper, the opportunity to buy a teapot, a tea tray or a small saucepan as a souvenir.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace of Fez is the oldest palace in Morocco. Of course, you can’t enter it, but it would be a shame not to pass in front of its magnificent bronze and ceramic doors.
The Nejjarine Fountain
This fountain, located on Nejjarine Square, is a must in the city. It is made of wood and stone, and, like most of the city’s fountains, is dazzling in its colours.
There is nothing better to visit Fez than to get lost and discover the city as you go along. But don’t forget to go through the Janan Sbil garden, and take a walk in the Jewish quarter of Fez, which is quite different from the medina.