Fes or Fez is the oldest city in Morocco and is popularly called the ‘Old Town’. Fez, also called the imperial town of Morocco, has been titled as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city is an urban town but is largest car-free area among all the urban areas of the world, which is pretty amazing and brings a lot of respect for this city. In size, Morocco’s third largest city is Fez and has a population of about a million residents. The city if Fez is also called the ‘Mecca of West’ for there are two old medinas located in this city. Some people also call it ‘The Athens of Africa’ as the city is a very deep-rooted cultural and religious city. The oldest university in the world is Qarawiyyin University which is located in Fez, Morocco. City is similar to the walled city of Jerusalem and is an ancient city in world’s history.
The city has three parts – the Fes el Bali, which is the old and walled city; the Fes Jdid, which is the new Fes and the home of Mellah; the Ville Nouvelle, which is the newest section of Fes created by French people.
The Medina is located in the Fes el Bali region of Fes is the major attraction of not just Fes but also Morocco. To enter the religious Medina, you will have to cross through the Bad Boujeloud Gate which has decoration of green and blue faiences. Walking down the area will give you a lot to explore. But if you take a guide along with you, you can understand the place better. The little alleys of this place, fountains on the way which are fabulously tiled, the local artisans work in the open for you to watch their work, have a good scrub from a local Hammam. The two main alleys are Talaa Kebira and Talaa Seghir. Both these will take you to the gate Bad Bou Jeloud. There is also a little rooftop restaurant of square shape which is definitely worth enjoying.
The heart of medina is the Kairouine Mosque which is a very huge and large mosque. But the vastness of the mosque is barely evident from the hundreds of homes and shops located all around it. This mosque is capable of holding a crowd of more than twenty thousand Muslims. And for the non-Muslims, you can only see this big architectural building from the outside as only Muslims can enter the area of the mosque. Recent renovations in the building were held recently after which, the tourists are allowed to peek in the mosque and witness the marvelous and beautiful tile work on the floor. The library of this place is one of the most ancient and old libraries of the world. The alley is full of wooden beams which may bang against your head if you are not careful.
Fes is a very popular city in the world for its leather products. The leather bazaar in the old Fes is the site where most of its leather products are made. These tanneries are operated since medieval era and not much has been changed since then. This makes the place even more fascinating. The leather shops will be filled with handbags, slippers, jackets, etc. for every size and every color you can think of. The tanneries are best watched from such shops. Do remember to carry mint with you so that the stinky animals and pigeon poop don’t bother your nose. Morning is the best time to visit a tannery as you can clearly see all the dyes of different colors.
There are three main museums in the Fes. The Nejarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts is a very beautiful museum which has a beautiful building that is too good for a museum. There is a very nice and comfortable rooftop restaurant and café on the top of this museum’s building. Another museum is the Dar Batha Museum. The artwork display of this museum is truly amazing and the specialty if this museum is the blue-colored pottery which is the traditional pottery of Fes and is famous worldwide. Other museum worth visiting in Fes is Belghazi Museum. This museum has artwork which is very much similar to that of Dar Batha. The difference here is that this museum is offering to sell the art pieces. This museum is located inside a palace and is very much suitable for lunch.
Outside the walls of old-Fes, you can find the Merenid Tombs. From the Merenid Tombs, you can see most of the roofs in the city of Fes. All the tourists must go up the hill to get up to the tombs and have a panoramic view of the city. Also, the sunsets are very beautifully amazing. The tombs themselves are not very good, but the view over there is exceptionally amazing.
Other thing that you should go to visit at Fes is at the Mellah which is the old Jewish quarter and the architecture of this quarter is very much different from the rest of the medina. Overall city of Fez is a very spiritual and at the same time, a very urban land. Going to Morocco is almost incomplete without visiting this imperial city.