Fès, Morocco: The oldest royal city in Morocco
Fès, the oldest royal city in Morocco, offers its guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in a world of the Middle Ages that has hardly changed for half a millennium. Located in the central part of the northern region of Landes, Fez was the capital of Morocco until 1912, is still a royal residence and is considered an important cultural and craft center of the country.
The historical Médina of Fez
In order to get to know the most important sights of the old town known as Médina Fès el-Bali, which incidentally is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it makes sense to explore it from the Bab Bojeloud gate, which was built in 1913. Afterwards, it is best to let yourself be carried away by the stream of people filling the staircases. While strolling around, you have to be careful not to get lost in the maze of alleys, which are often only 50 centimeters wide. Fortunately, no cars can run here. As an alternative means of transport, patient donkeys or mules trot through the crowd, moving mountains of goods on their backs.
Past mostly windowless house walls, one passes the street “Tala Kebira”, which is filled with small handicrafts and trading companies, and crosses the Kairaouine quarter, which is dominated by traders. In various markets, which are known as souks in Morocco, the craftsmanship of bygone times can be observed At the tanners and dyers market, goat and sheep skins are processed into brightly colored morocco leather using traditional methods. In addition to herbs and spices, the Souk el-Attarine sells the reddish powder henne, which was already used as a dye in ancient Egypt. Not far away is the Place Nejjarineto find one of the most beautiful places in the medina. Since some narrow alley labyrinths only have a single entrance, it is sometimes difficult to ensure progress. Then it is worthwhile to visit one of the tiny inns for personal relaxation, in which sugar-sweet tea or grilled lamb is offered.
The historic buildings in this neighborhood include:
- The former Koran schools Medersa Attarine and Bou Inaniaina
- the Vizier Palace, which houses a museum of Moroccan art
- the grave of the city’s founder Idriss II, venerated as a place of pilgrimage
- the Kairouan Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the Arab world, which is considered the most important building in the city
The medieval new town of Fès and “Ville Nouvelle”
Fés el Jedid is called it in the Arab world, the medieval new town of Fez. Most of its buildings were erected from the middle of the 13th century on behalf of the rulers of the Merinids, an Islamic Berber dynasty. In the center of this district is the huge complex of the Royal Palacewhich occupies an area of 80 hectares. Unfortunately, the walled part of the palace, which is still the summer residence of the king of the country, is not open to the public. The visitors’ steps end either in front of the magnificently designed main entrance portal or at one of the six other portals adorned with colorful tiles. Not far from there is the Jewish quarter known as Mellah, the structure of which has suffered, at least in part, due to the poverty of its current residents.
In the southern area of Fès is the actual new town, known as Ville Nouvelle, which emerged as a settlement area for the Europeans. This district, which is the largest in terms of area, is home to modern cultural institutions and also the shopping streets typical of a big city.