Fez is the second largest city in Morocco (by population), after Casablanca. Fez is a one of the royal northeastern city in Morocco which is also known as the country’s cultural and spiritual center. Fez has gained its popularity because it has the best preserved old city in the Arab world, the rambling, intricate medina of Fes El Bali, with middle-aged architecture, lively market and old-world atmosphere, which is surprisingly the world’s largest car-free urban sector and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The transportation of goods is also done in medina style with the help of donkeys, mules and handcarts. Fez has the Mediterranean climate with intense continental influence as it is located by the Atlas Mountain. The warmest months of the year are July and August, and the coldest month is January.
Fez being a medieval heritage city, people’s lives over there remains unchanged for centuries. With increasing globalization, Moroccans waiters, workers, and other people in Fez are open to accepting and learning languages like English French besides knowing Arabic. If you are eager and enthusiastic about acquiring more knowledge of history, then Fez has to be on your must-visit list in Morocco.
What to do in Fez to make your trip one good episode?
If you want to make a day memorable and worth remembering for a lifetime, get yourself lost in the old city of Fez. Fez has small twisting and confusing streets like a maze where you are obvious of getting lost on entering and on exiting you will surely find yourself somewhere unexpected. Try this mini adventure – Get Lost! And you can add this experience to your diary to revive in future
Stroll yourself among largest street in Fez, Talaa Kibera. It is not much crowded with tourist but you can surely get the feel of old Fez by visiting different shops and souks.
If you have not taken a traditional Morocco bath known as Hammam, you will certainly lament. You can ask locals and they will happily guide you to the nearest Hammam. You need to take your own soap, towel, scrub and other amenities you require.
Visit one of the largest musical festivals which happens in June every year known as the Sacred Music Festival. This musical festival features music from all around the world.
How about indulging yourself in cooking Moroccan cuisine which is often considered as one of the best cuisines in the world after French and Italian cuisine. Eating Moroccan food like couscous, tajine or maybe a bowl of Harrira is a different thing and cooking that food is totally a new experience in itself. You can visit afternoon cooking school and make yourself your own lunch and meet some great people and take the authentic recipes with you. One of the best cooking classes is being conducted at café Clock, you can get to learn all sort of things about the food souks in Morocco.
Places to visit in Fez- City of Morocco.
Batha Museum: This museum is known for its artifacts, sculpted wood, jewelry, carpets and pottery. It is located in a Moorish palace which was built in the 19th century.
Bab Boujeloud: This place is commonly known as the “Blue Gate” (as blue Fassi tiles are used on the outer side), serving as the main entrance to the old Medina in Fez. You can visit Talaa Kibera (big hill) on your left and Talaa Sghira(little hill) on your right. These roads lead you to the main fares in the old medina and merge with each other ahead into the medina. Bab Boujeloud and surroundings were constructed in the 20th century. The Blue gate is blue on the exterior and from interior it’s green. Both Facades are decorated with detailed zellij work.
Medersa Bou Inania: It is one of the greatest portrayals of the Marinid architecture in the 14th century. The guide is advisable when you visit Medersa Bou Inania as many times visitors who are non-Muslim are prohibited entry because of the prayer timings, but you can always see the royally decorated courtyard.
Mellah – The Mellah also known as Jewish Quarter of Fez and was found in 1438. There are very few Jewish people residing here today as most of them have settled in France or Israel. The Mellah is obviously worth a visit as you can get to see ancient ornate balconies and wrought iron windows. You can also pay a visit to Jewish cemetery which is also a must-see place, be cautious of the fake guides over there, so it’s always a good option to go with a knowledgeable guide and avoid being getting harassed.
Fondouk el-Nejjarine: It is also known as “Wood Museum “ which faces the (carpenter’s square). It was constructed in the 18th century. Tourist can stroll around and learn about the original woodwork and artifacts dating from the 14th century. Do not miss to visit the rooftop terrace as that will give you one of the finest views of Fez.
Nejjarine Square and Museum: It is situated in the middle of the medina near the carpenter district. This amazing square is dotted with Andalusian style architecture known from the 18th century. The museum displays woodworking tools and the collection of wood and cabinet work, from various region of Morocco, both in the ancient and modern form.
Merenid Tombs – Located just outside the medina, the Merenid Tombs dating back to the Merenid dynasty that ruled over Morocco from 13th to 15th century. The crumbling ruins of the Merenid Tombs, on a hill above Fez, give the comprehensive views of the city and countryside. The tombs have some beautifully detailed carvings, but mostly the tourists visit here for the surroundings and the view.
Tanneries: On warm days you do not need directions to Tanneries as the smell will take you there.“The smell is free… but if you want to buy, you have to pay,” Thami says. It is quite captivating to stand upon the rooftops and watch the tanners using nothing but their bare feet to dye the leather. Leather tanneries in Morocco still follow the ancient system of treating leather. Hides are soaked for a few days in vessels full of cow urine, quicklime, water and salt before being picked at and dried. Then they are sent to a different set of vessels filled with diluted pigeon excrement and water to be softened. With nothing but their bare feet and hands, tanners knead the skins to their desired softness. You are surely going to end up buying handmade Moroccan leather goods.
The University of Al-Qarawiyyin: The Al-Qarawiyyin (al-Karaouine) Mosque and University in Fez, Morocco was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian in 859 AD. UNESCO considers it to be the oldest university in the world. The libraries have several extremely valuable documents dating from 780 A.D. including the Al-Muwatta of Malik written on gazelle parchment. Non-Muslims cannot enter, but it’s possible to peek in at the beautiful interior that includes two chandeliers that were originally church bells from Andalusia. Madrassa of Al-Qarawiyyin is located next to the mosque in the middle of the medina. This is one of the only Madrassa’s opened to non-Muslims. A Madrassa is a school of learning and instruction. This wonderful Madrassa is decorated with glazed tiles and plaster. It is referred to as one of the oldest functioning universities in the world.
The Royal Palace of Fez (Dar El Makhzen): This palace was build in the 17th century, this palace can be appreciated only from outside. But behind that door is actually the real things to see, the extensive landscapes, painted ceiling.