Fez was Morocco's capital city for over 400 years from its beginnings in 789. It is the country's leading cultural and religious centre.
There are two distinct towns within Fez: the old town of Fez el Bali which is largely mediaeval, and the 'new' town of Fez el Jedid. Fez medina (a medina is a walled city), Morocco's largest medina, is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and walking through it is like walking back in time. It is a maze of narrow alleyways and small 'quarters' which have their own distinctive atmosphere.
Ask your guide to show you the mosques, museums, palaces and medersas (Koranic schools), plus sights and smells you will never forget, such as at the famous dye pits. Relax and let Fez take a hold of you - there is no other way.
Kairaouine Mosque has been the centre of Islamic learning in Morocco for more than 1000 years. It is an unusual and huge structure (not open to non-Muslims) and its many entrances are seen throughout Fez el Bali. It was founded in 857 but most of the current building is of 10 and 12 century origin. 20,000 worshippers can be accommodated.
Medersas (Islamic Schools): There are many medersas around the Kairaouine Mosque, probably the most famous of which is the 14 century Attarin Medersa. It has a beautiful bronze door and an elegant courtyard. Bou Inania and Seffarine are also worth visiting.
Only a short distance from the Kairaouine Mosque is the tanning quarter, one of Fez’s main attractions – despite the smell. Huge piles of hides in various stages of being cured with pigeon dung and dyed are strewn over roofs and doused in large tubs. It is definitely worth a visit.
Bab Boujeloud This is the impressive main entrance gate to Fez el Bali, and it was built in 1913. On the outside of the gate the mosaic work is mainly blue, which is the colour for Fez and on the other side it is green, denoting Islam.
The Souks: One of the main enjoyments for visitors to Fez el Bali is simply walking through the medina with its different souks, or market areas. Here all the craftsmen or businessmen of one trade come together in one area, so you pass through food markets, markets for copper products, musical instruments, spices, wood carving, and many more such as the dyers’ souk. This is a street which is constantly and colourfully draped with multi-coloured yarns and cloth drying in the heat of the day, while in the buildings the workmen slave over cauldrons of dye.
The Mellah: This is the Jewish quarter of the city, which is actually mostly abandoned today. A visit to see the Habanim Synagogue (now a museum) and some of the architecture here is worthwhile.
Marrakech is the main international gateway. British Airways, Easy Jet, Ryan Air and Thomson have frequent direct flights from London to Marrakech. There are also direct flights to Casablanca and Fez, and a more extensive service with Royal Air Maroc to other airports within Morocco.
Language: Moroccan Arabic is the official language. It is significantly different from classical and modern Arabic.
Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from the embassy
There are no compulsory vaccinations.
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Otley, Suffolk, IP6 9JW.
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