Fes is an exotic and fascinating city located in northeastern Morocco. It is often referred to as the cultural capital of the country. There are many architectural wonders and historic buildings to delight in.
One of the most iconic sights in the city and the most unbelievable scents come from the Chaouwara Tanneries. Here world-class leather is produced making use of methods that have changed little since medieval times. In the mornings you can see pits here full of colorful dye. To see it all the best way is to enter any one of the many leather shops here that have been built into the wall that surround the site.
At Art Naji is the place to go for ceramics and this is where you can get the distinctive blue pottery or intricate mosaics and much more. Guides will be glad to show you around. The clay used to make the pottery comes from the surrounding hills around Fes. All the pieces made here are of the finest quality and lead-free.
The finest theological college in Fes is the Medersa Bou Inania built by the Merenid Sultan Bou Inan between 1351 and 1357. It has been restored with intricate tiles and carved plaster, lovely cedar and massive brass entrance doors. Instead of just having a prayer hall the Bou Inania is home to a complete mosque.
The mihrab (niche facing Mecca) has an impressive ceiling and onyx marble columns. There is a lovely green-tiled minaret.
The Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts has found its home in a lovely restored fondouq or rooming house. At one time a caravanserai for travelling merchants who lodged above and stored and sold their goods below. The rooms with displays are centered around a courtyard. You can se traditional artifacts of craftsmen’s tools, chunky prayer beads and Berber locks, chests and musical instruments. There is a rooftop cafe offering spectacular views. No photos here.
Jnan Sbil (Bou Jeloud Gardens) these lush gardens offer a respite from the city streets. There are leafy trails to walk along, fountains to admire and you can sit by the bird-filled lake. It is particularly lovely at dusk.
The Royal Palace grounds are not open to the public. Visitors can view its impressive brass doors and carved cedar wood. To one side are lemon trees and tour guides will lead you around.
Ibn Danan Synagogue is a lovely 17th century synagogue what was restored with the help of UNESCO in 1999. There are many interesting details here including a mikva or ritual bath in the basement. The original 17th century torah scrolls are made out of gazelled skin and stored in a wooden cupboard. Sign posts will lead you about.
Walk along Rue des Merinides to see impressive wooden houses with wrought-iron balconies. Lots to see and like while strolling along this street.
Fes el Bali is the medina area and the oldest neighborhood in Fes.
The main gate into this area is Bab Boujloud. Approaching the gates you can get a fantastic view of the famed landmark Medersa Bou Inania minaret. The winding streets are divided into two districts separated by a river. On the left bank are historic monuments and on the right bank shopping souks.
Among the interesting buildings on the right bank are the Al-Andalus Mosque dating from 1321 and known its green and white minaret. The Old City is a great place to explore as you wander about along cobblestone lanes.
The Batha Museum has found its home in a lovely 19th century summer palace and became a museum in 1915. Here you can see a great collection of traditional Moroccan arts and crafts. You’ll see historical and artistic artifacts among them fine woodcarving. There are also Fassi embroidery, colorful Berber carpets and antique instruments. The highlight here is a fantastic ceramic collections that dates from the 14th century to the present.
The Andalucian-style garden offers a place to relax. By a spreading Holm oak you can listen to open-air concerts during the Sacred Music and Sufi Culture Festivals.
The Borj Nord was built by Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour in the late 16th century. It sits on level with the Merenid Timbs and offers a place to super views. In 2016 it became a national armory museum. Among its highlights are elaborately decorated sabres and muscats, traditional leather powder drums and interesting old photos. All signage in French and Arabic. No photos.
Henna Souq is one of the medina’s oldest marketplaces. It is dominated by a huge plane tree that shades the stalls that sell ceramics and traditional cosmetics, including henna. It is a great place to stroll through and see the variety of products. Now no longer in use, the mohtassib (price controller) once had offices here and you can still see the large scales.
Palais Glaoui is an 18th century palace that has fallen into disrepair. It was built by a pasha from Marrakesh and the family living here were its guardians for 100 years. The main house was built in the Andalucía-style and still has a well preserved 20th century bathroom still used today. There is a large kitchen with cooking pots and out back is a modern-art gallery.
Merenid Tombs are in various stages of ruin. They are worth the climb up to see awesome views of Fes. At dusk is a great time to see all the lights come on.
Some 113 km from Fes you’ll find the Tazzeka National Park and Taza. Taza was founded by the Berbers in the 5th century. At one time it was a fortress. In the old town there are cereal markets, souks for mats, jewelry and carpets as well as the remains of the old kasbah. Inside Taza’s Great Mosque you see one of Morocco’s most beautiful bronze chandeliers with 514 oil lamps.
Outside of town are the Frouato Caverns which reach down to a depth of 180 meters with stalactites and stalagmites creating miniature sculptures. In the national park you’ll find a vast forest of cork, oak and cedar trees. For spectacular views climb to the summit of Djebel Tazzeka (1,980 meters) to see wooded countryside and the snow-bound peaks of the Middle Atlas.
Sefrou is a walled town just 29 km southeast of Fes. It was once a major point on the caravan trading routes. It has become a sleep and lovely town. There are wonderful old buildings and an ancient kind of charm.
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