The history of Morocco’s many medinas is complicated by colonial narratives perpetuated by UNESCO and the west. Here’s the full story on Fez medina’s past.
The imperial city of Fez was often overlooked by tourists in favour of Marrakech but Morocco’s “spiritual” capital is now bustling with visitors because of major renovations and low-cost flights.
The 1,200-year-old Moroccan city has that captivating sense of being at a crossroads: of cultures and of time…
It’s a huge continent, with so much to see and do, where do you begin? Here’s a little help to get you started.
In recent times the imperial city of Fez has been overlooked by tourists in favour of Marrakesh, but now Morocco’s “spiritual” capital is bustling with visitors due to major renovations and low-cost flights.
On June 14-22, squares and palaces will open their doors to the festival, whose title is ‘Fes, convergence of cultures’. Spiritual notes at UNESCO medina recently restored (ANSA)…
In dizzyingly exotic Morocco, I’ll scurry past snake charmers and lurching cobras, hang onto a bouncy camel for dear life and haggle for bargains in mysterious carpet-swathed ancient medinas. And…
If you are planning a visit to Fes, Morocco, you don’t want to miss these tours and top attractions during your stay.
Dar Seffarine, named for the nearby brass market, counteracts of the hustle and bustle of the Fez medina, the vast labyrinth of souks, mosques, fountains and more in the cultural and religious center of Morocco.
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- Foodie hotel Palais Amani in Fez offers a masterclass with chef Zakia Mounadil
- She shows guests where to buy top ingredients from the medina’s food market
- Then back at the hotel she shows them how to whip up a three-course lunch
- Palais Amani is a restored art deco riad located next to one of the medina’s gates
Wandering the streets of Fez’s ancient walled medina is like a magical mystery tour.
There are filigreed metal lamps and intricate wooden carvings, richly dyed carpets and traditional djellaba (hooded kaftans). Carts and donkeys piled high with goods jostle with shoppers.
Nothing prepares you for the riot of flavour and colour that is the medina. A Unesco world heritage site, it is the world’s largest car-free urban area.
We are here at the labyrinthine food market to choose ingredients to cook an authentic Moroccan feast. Our female chef Zakia Mounadil, from top foodie hotel Palais Amani, is showing us the best places to buy spices, fresh coriander and mint, and extra virgin olive oil.
Read more from source: Why a stay at the Palais Amani in Fez will leave foodies drooling
If you want to know what life was like in Morocco hundreds of years ago, you could read a history book, go to a museum — or better yet, visit Fez. One of the most popular tourist spots in Morocco, life has stayed the same for centuries in this medieval city. For example, its tanneries still produce leather the way they did 1000 years ago, and it has the second-oldest university in the world. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Fez, Morocco.
There are no cars
Most of the Fez medina, which contains close to 10,000 streets, is completely car-free, though you might see the occasional motorbike zooming through a crowd of people. The entire medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site — rightly so.
It has one of the oldest water clocks in the world
What’s a water clock, you ask? It’s an intricate clock where water flows from one end to the other and calculates time. Along with sun dials, water clocks are the oldest form of time keeping in the world. Fez just happens to have one, the Dar al-Magana, which was built in 1357.
Fes el Bali – Morocco’s ancient capital is not for the faint of heart. Those whose notion of luxury travel is to soak in a sense of tranquillity may want to look at other destinations in the country. This, after all, is a medieval era walled city that still deploys donkeys as a mode of transport, where stray cats roam the narrow cobbled streets in moonlight and sellers call out to you in souks already heaving with crowds.
Yet it is precisely this magical medieval maelstrom that draws the traveller. It’s an entire world away from our ordinary lives with cultural, gastronomical, architectural and historical experiences that even other Moroccan cities like Marrakesh can’t offer.
That’s because Fes el Bali and the city of Fez at large has always been Morocco’s cultural centre. Its first buildings in the medina were built in the 8th century and was the capital from which Moroccan dynasties spread its influence across North Africa and parts of modern-day Spain and Portugal.
How to see the best of this North African gem.
From the rugged Atlas Mountains to the laidback surfing beaches, Morocco is a country full of spectacular delights. Get lost in the souks, ride a camel through the desert, and indulge in traditional cuisine–in this magical part of the world, all your wanderlust dreams can come true.
Mount a dromedary camel to explore the undulating orange dunes and abandoned kasbahs of the desert, a magical region immortalized in film and fiction. Camel rides are also available in Marrakesh (near the Menara Gardens) and on Essaouira beach if your itinerary doesn’t include the desert.
Sip Mint Tea and Watch the World Go By
Make like a local and install yourself on a cafe terrace for a fortifying mint tea and a dose of people watching. Tea (sometimes called Berber whiskey) is the essential social lubricant in Morocco and this sugary sweet pick-me-up is used to welcome visitors and seal deals.
Appreciate Koranic Scholarship at Ben Youssef Medersa
If you can hack the heat, it might be time to book yourself a summer holiday to one of Morocco’s most beautiful cities.
IF you’re after sunshine and culture then look no further.
Morocco’s Fez has got it all…
Explore the medina
The old city is nicknamed the “Athens of Africa” and its 9th-century medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Take a guided tour of some of the 9,700 pedestrianised streets to see the incredible mosaics of Bou Inania Medersa and El Glaoui Palace, and peer through the engraved wooden doors of Al Quaraouiyine, the world’s first university dating from 859 AD. Half-day tours cost from £40.
Then sip mint tea at the cafe of the 18th century Nejjarine Museum of Wood Arts and Crafts, entry £1.60.
Later get a hilltop selfie on the top of Al-Qolla while visiting the remains of the Merenid Tombs.
Morocco is such a feast for the traveller’s senses. It’s a country of variety; with mountains, deserts, coastlines, Kasbah valleys and intriguing nature. From place to place, you’ll constantly witness new cultures, languages, foods and variations of the minty, Moroccan tea. But Morocco also has a range of exciting, vibrant and historic cities. Atlantic cities like Casablanca, blue painted hillside towns like Chefchaouen, or the Spanish influenced Tangier. Each of Morocco’s cities is intriguing and each has its own personality.
Four of the country’s most famous cities are commonly referred to as the Imperial Cities. All have, at one point in time, been the capital of the country, each one has ancient medinas and royal palaces.
Auckland recently beat Hong Kong for traffic congestion, when recent data put it at 40th-worst big city in the world for gridlock.
And with winter getting colder, many super city commuters may be dreaming of some freedom from the rat race.
Fortunately, real estate website Curbed has made a helpful list of car-free cities around the world.
Some are historic town centres that have banned cars; some have streets that are simply too narrow for vehicles. Others, like Venice, rely on boats.
In an effort to end traffic chaos and air pollution, the Ghent city centre banned cars in 1996. The streets are now free for exploring on foot, by bike or public transport.