Located between the fertile lands of the Saïs and the forests of the Middle Atlas, Fez is the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities. Today Morocco’s third largest city and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Fez is the embodiment of the country’s history and its spiritual and religious capital. Its medina is believed to be the world's largest contiguous car-free urban area.
Bou Inania & Attarine Medersa
The Bou Inania Medersa is the largest and most sumptuously decorated medersa ever built by the Merinids. Constructed between 1350 and 1355 by the sultan Abou Inan, it is the only medersa in Morocco that has a minbar (pulpit) and a minaret. A mosque, cathedral, students’ residence and school combined, its functions have determined its architectural complexity. It is one of the few Islamic religious buildings that is open to non-Muslims.
The Attarine Medersa stands in the neighbourhood of the Karaouine mosque and the Attarine souk. Built between 1323 and 1325 by the Merinid sultan Abou Saïd Othman it is, together with the Bou Inania medersa, considered to be one of the wonders of Moorish architecture.
Established in 859, the Karaouine Mosque is one of the oldest and most illustrious mosques in the western Muslim world. The first university to be established in Morocco, it was frequented by such learned men as Ibn Khaldoun, Ibn el-Khatib, Averroës and even Pope Sylvester (909-1003). It is still considered to be one of the main spiritual and intellectual centres of Islam and remains the seat of the Muslim university of Fez.
Often located near watercourses, and usually some distance from the residential quarters because of the unpleasant odours that they produced, tanneries made a substantial contribution to a city’s economy. Tanning is a craft with traditions that go back thousands of years. The process turns animal hides into soft, rot-proof leather. Once tanned, the hides are passed on to the leatherworkers.
The Chouara, or Tanners’ Quarter, has been located near Wadi Fez since the Middle Ages. Its dyeing vats, in the midst of houses in the Blida quarter, are best seen from neighbouring terraces. Although pervaded by an unpleasantly strong smell, this is the most lively and picturesque of all the souks in Fez.
Fez’ Jewish quarter owes its name ‘Mellah’ from the Arabic word for ‘salt’, the ground on which the quarter was founded and is thought to be the first Jewish enclave to be established in Morocco. Originally located near the Karaouine district, it was moved near the palace by the Merinid rulers during the 13th century so they could offer the Jewish community greater security, in return for an annual levy. The present boundaries of the Mellah were established only at the end of the 18th century and the restricted available space during the time of Alaouite sultan Moulay Yazid, shows in the striking architectural contrast with today’s Muslim quarters. The Mellah’s visiting high lights are the Danan synagogue, the former Jewish goldsmiths’ jewellery souk, Bab el Mellah and the Jewish cemetery.
Enclosed within high walls, the large Place Pacha el Baghdadi links the medina and Fez Jdid. On one side of the square stands Bab Boujeloud, a monumental Moorish gate, built in 1913, and the principal entrance into Fez el Bali. After losing its effectiveness as defence, the fortified gates of Fez became to be seen as decorative buildings contributing to the city’s prestige. From the entrance way a glimpse can be caught of the minaret of the Bou Inania Medersa.
The souks of Fez are laid out in a logical but relatively complex labyrinth around the Karaouine mosque. Makers and sellers are grouped together according to the products that they offer, and every type of craft has its own street. Built by Abou Yacoub Youssef (1286-1307) the Sidi Frijthe maristan once stood in a square near the Henna souk. It was the largest mental asylum in the Merinid Empire and also functioned as a hospital for storks. In the covered streets with luxury goods shops near the Zaouia of Moulay Idriss we find the kissaria, which marks the exact centre of the souks.
|Winter temperature = 5 - 15°C||Summer temperature = 25 – 35°C|
Mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, with a high humidity level
- World Sacred Music Festival June
- Sufi Culture Festival June