The medina of Fes (Fes el Bali) is the oldest and largest of North Africa and dates back to the 9th century! Fez grew up around the oldest continually operating institution of higher education in the world, founded in 859. This is a restful place to take a breath from the narrow covered streets and … The trip will include a stop at the town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, one of the holiest places in Morocco, where Idris I brought Shia Islam to Morocco in the eighth century and which was built with material quarried from Volubilis. The city was once the capital of Morocco and is still widely viewed as the cultural epicenter of the country. Contents hide. Traditionally these would contain turmeric (yellow), indigo (blue), mint (green), henna (orange) and crushed poppy (red), although chemical dyes tend to be used today. A French woman living in Marrakech advised us to go to a certain shop (across the street of Café El Khmissa), which will give you an honest price. 13 x Things To Do in Marrakech, Morocco: A 3-Day Guide, Chefchaouen, the Blue City of Morocco – Things To Do, Morocco Route Guide: Ultimate 10-Day Travel Itinerary, Finding a Travel Insurance – Everything to Know (COVID-19 coverage), Best Places to Travel in 2020 (after COVID-19), https://www.saltinourhair.com/morocco/fes-morocco/. This is held by many as the greatest walled city in the Arab world, where the intertwining streets are so dark and narrow that you can’t even see them from the lookouts atop the valley. The Fez Medina Guided Tour is up to six hours long and can be given in English, French, Spanish or Italian. This square is walled on one side by the grand, horseshoe-arched entrance to the al-Qarawiyyin Library, and centres on a gnarled plane tree. 70.000 people are living in this car-free urban area and somehow it seems that time stopped there at one point. Note the cedar wood doors, which have been smoothed by pilgrims kissing and stroking their surface over the centuries. No worries! It’s easy to see why when you see how well the ancient charms of the medina have been preserved. On this journey you’ll drive through cedar forest inhabited by monkeys, and enter the Middle Atlas Mountains to see Berber villages, a 1930s ski resort, mountain springs and jagged rock formations. A stirring panorama of Old Fez awaits you at the ruins of a royal necropolis from the Marinid Dynasty (13th to 15th centuries). The royal family and government still frequently use this building, so sadly tourists aren’t allowed inside. Both the inner courtyard and the rooms have authentic, fantastic, and beautiful decor. Here you will find some of the best sights in Fez as well as tips for getting around and making the most of your time. It was in this period that Fez reached its cultural peak, becoming a capital and giving rise to madrasas, mosques and some of the city defences that stand today. 7 Best Things To Do In Fez (Morocco) This week’s post is dedicated to the religious capital of the country. The city was once the capital of Morocco and is still widely viewed as the cultural epicenter of the country. Borj Nord’s sister fort is perched on a hilltop across the valley, with a wonderful panorama of Fez from the south. At one time, the city was the capital of Morocco, taking over the title from Marrakech, over 570km to the south. One of the most striking defensive features on the Medina’s walls is this 16th-century Saaid dynasty fortress towering over the city from the north and visible for miles. Source: Patricia Hofmeester / shutterstock. This means it’s a terrace paradise! Cafe Clock is also a great place to grab a bite to eat, with beautiful terrace views. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Volubilis was inhabited from the 3rd century BCE to the 11th century CE, and was ruled by Rome before being taken by local tribes in the 3rd century CE, never to be recaptured. The building, constructed in the 14th century, was once a school. Borj Sud was constructed in the same period, but unlike its sibling it retains its simple square silhouette, without corner bastions. El Mokri was cultured and well-travelled, staying at various courts around Europe and becoming the first Moroccan to import a grand piano. Take the opportunity to stay in a traditional riad in Fes. Just north of the Royal Palace is the Mellah, or Jewish Quarter. The Medina of Fes is only reachable by foot, so you have to be prepared to walk a lot. Let’s explore the best things to do in Fez: What is believed to be the largest pedestrian zone in the world is an indecipherable maze of more than 9,000 mostly nameless alleys. Continuing the color theme is the adjoining mosque, with its breathtaking green minaret that is visible across the medina. You’ll see it traded here as leaves, which are dried and ground into a paste. Things to do in Fes. Locals will try to offer you “mint for free” to help with the smell but we’ve seen a lot of people paying afterward. Over the portal are gossamer geometric and floral patterns, and incredibly detailed tilework. Soon after came the 9th-century University of al-Qarawiyyin, the oldest place of higher education in the world. Moroccan architecture makes for beautiful earthy colored houses with flat rooftops. To get this view overlooking the tannery, you have to enter one of the many leather shops surrounding the tannery. An authentic eighth-century walled city – Fes el Bali. Inside, what will catch your eye is the large Torah Ark with carved wooden panels and framed by delicate painted honeycomb plasterwork. We visited around 4 PM and there was almost no one! Fez el-Bali, this UNESCO world heritage city is the cultural hot spot of Morocco, a place to see and to feel the typical buzzing Moroccan life.The Medina (old town) of Fes city is the largest and most vibrant in North Africa. Save on Pinterest to read it later. As well as showing you to all the hallmarks, like the tanneries, the Nejjarine Museum (skip the line), the madrasas, the Andalusian and the kaleidoscope of market stalls, your guide will share anecdotes, historical facts and haggling tips. Looking for unique things to do in Fez? But it’s the sounds, as much as the sights, that make Place Seffarine special, as the rest of square is given over to copperware, a craft that goes back many centuries in Fez. To the side is a 19th-century saqayya, a fountain for caravans, with astonishing zellige tiles and honeycomb plasterwork. Note: non-Muslim visitors are not allowed to see the inside of the shrine, the saint’s grave and the sanctuary surrounding it. This mosque, up steps from the tanneries, goes back to the very birth of the city in the 9th century, which puts it among the oldest mosques in the world. We got a $40 Airbnb discount for you! Fes is well connected from all directions. There’s a sumptuous collection of local cobalt blue ceramics, a signature of the city for more than a millennium, and astrolabes, a technology adapted by Arab scholars in the 10th century to set prayer times. Weather wise, Marrakech is warmer then Fes. Source: Maurizio De Mattei / shutterstock. 10 Best Things to do in Fez | Morocco. There is a wonderful courtyard in the center, surrounded by geometric patterned tiles that decorate the walls and floor. If you can, try to choose a hotel inside the medina itself. This palace was commissioned by Mohammed El Mokri (d. 1957), finance minister for a succession of Sultans during the French Protectorate. Mystical, magical Fes: a remarkable city located in Morocco, a UNESCO world heritage site, and home to the oldest and largest medina in North Africa! Between Fes el-Jdid and Fes el-Bali is the oldest park in the city, landscaped in the 18th century on the orders of Sultan Moulay Abdallah. Because of this, it’s best to remember to take a bit of mint or a scarf with you. More than half of the complex is taken up by an Andalusian-style garden, still used for cultural and religious events in summer. Ideally, choose a hotel or riad in the center of the medina to be close to the main sights and to avoid getting lost late at night. The laneways of Fes’ medina . Location: Mellah, Fes, Morocco. Later, you’ll descend to the desert and will ride a camel into the sands to spend the night in a Berber camp. When people talk about the Medina, they normally mean both Old Fez (Fes el-Bali) and the newer Fes el-Jdid, founded in the 13th century during the Marinid Dynasty. Fez Morocco is famous for its leather tannery, and it’s one of the main tourist attractions in Fez. Although tourists can’t access the interior, you can take a glimpse through several of the entrance gates. The Bou Inania Madrasa is an iconic religious building in the center of the medina. We had the best food at Chez Rachid. That rectangular courtyard is enriched with carved cedar, sculpted marble, multicoloured zellige tiles and stucco, all intended to evoke Granada’s fabled Alhambra palace complex. Downstairs is a mikvah (bath) for women, still with water, and you can head up to a terrace with a view of the cemetery next door. How to get around in Fes Morocco. Many tourists fall in love with lamb with prunes, and you’ll see the knifework … This handmade copperware hangs, glinting in the shopfronts, where you can haggle for buckets, pots, pans, tagines, trays, incense burners, couscous steamers, sieves, kettles, sugar boxes and a lot more besides. Set in a 16th-century fortress constructed on the orders of Sultan Ahmed al-Mansour, the Borj Nord is a relatively new museum, opened in 2016, containing items from all … You can make the climb at sunset, pausing to pick out the city’s landmarks, like the lofty minaret of the Mosque of al-Qarawiyyin and the royal palace, fringed by the Mellah (Jewish quarter). Find what to do today, this weekend, or in September. Discover the roots of Fes by wandering the thousands of alleys here and enjoy the largest car-free urban area in the world! Liz Hoggard. Required fields are marked *. Delicious! The best months to visit Fes or Morocco are spring and autumn. Now non-Muslims can enter the complex and admire the courtyard’s 18th-century white marble fountain, although the mausoleum at the south end is out of bounds. Top Things to Do in Fes, Fès-Meknes: See Tripadvisor's 56,394 traveller reviews and photos of 192 things to do when in Fes. Be aware that lots of children operate scams where they will help you with directions in order to receive money at the end. Sit here at the end of a day of sightseeing and enjoy the sun setting behind this wonderful city. Over time this complex became known by its sahrij, the ornamented ablution pool in its courtyard, which is where the name comes from. The most popular things to do in Fes with kids according to Tripadvisor travellers are: Morocco Countryside Tours; Tenere Tours; Marrakech Camel Trips; Fes Desert Trips; Desert Merzouga Tours; See all kid friendly things to do in Fes on Tripadvisor $ See All 11 Things to Do in Fez. Ask shop or restaurant owners how to get to your destination. There are many cooking classes in Fez where tourists and locals can learn about scrumptious Moroccan cuisine and bread making. Today, it is one of the city’s most impressive examples of Maranid architecture, with the courtyard in particular a masterpiece of … Fess combines old and new and blends culture and atmosphere in a unique way that will truly amaze any visitor. Make sure to know which signs you should follow before you leave your riad or hotel because even Google Maps can find it hard to navigate in this maze. Their occupants are unknown but the quality of the scraps of ornamentation point to high status. 14 amazing things to do in Fes, Morocco . Not far northeast of the Mosque of al-Qarawiyyin is the largest of the city’s three tanneries going about its business in almost the same way for more than 800 years. Fez: 10 things to do in Morocco’s cultural and spiritual centre. The gate on the north facade is from the beginning of the 13th century and has two arches, one adorned with moulded plasterwork and the other cedar, and both rich with zellige decoration. The streets in the Fes souks are much narrower than the ones in Marrakech, with many twists, turns, and forks that make it a true maze. For non-Muslims, this is a monument to enjoy from the outside, but there’s enough to see to make a detour worthwhile. Because of its historical significance, and cultural importance, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. From the mausoleum’s entrance, non-Muslims will be able to spot the tomb to the right through the doorway, draped in silk brocade. This was set up by the merchant Mimoun Ben Sidan following the arrival of thousands of Jewish families recently expelled from Spain. In the middle of the Medina you’ll happen upon a tight passageway beckoning you onto a square in the shade of large old plane trees and the high minaret of the Zaouia Moulay Idriss II. The souks are the very soul of any Moroccan city, and the ones in Fes are some of the most impressive. Because of its narrow streets, it is very easy to get lost, something we experienced ourselves a few times. 1. Tip: Cafe clock also offers cooking classes! Bliss! This peaceful slice of nature is the only public garden in the busy medina. Opening times: 9am-5pm (not during prayer times)Entrance fee: 20 Dhs. Book your tickets online for the top things to do in Fes, Morocco on Tripadvisor: See 56,401 traveller reviews and photos of Fes tourist attractions. Explore inside the medieval walls of the wonderfully chaotic medina, and discover towers of spices, traditional handicrafts, hammams, and tanneries. The elegant minaret of the Bou Inania Madrasa can be seen through the horseshoe arch of Fes el-Bali’s great western gateway. The past is alive here, so take one or two days to enjoy all the best things to do in Fes! Receive travel discounts, tips and behind the scenes stories. Instead, I tried to list the top tourist attractions you have to see. We’ll be talking about what to see in Fez and, as we’ve done on previous occasions, instead of reducing it to a simple list, we’ll make it more interesting by making it into a tour of Fez. It’s also one of the few religious sites in Fes that can be entered by non-Muslim people. This 14th-century madrasa by the spice and perfume market at Souk al-Attarine is a masterpiece of the Marinid Dynasty, commissioned by the Sultan Abu Sa’id Uthman II. The 13th-century New City – Fes el Jdid, and finally the French’s 20th-century contribution- … Perched on a hill overlooking the former imperial city of Fez, the Borj Nord Museum is dedicated to military history. Things to do near Medina of Fez on Tripadvisor: See 62,849 reviews and 50,057 candid photos of things to do near Medina of Fez in Fes, Morocco. There’s no doubt that this madrasa is the grandest in the city! Tuesday 27 March 2018 15:05. Opposite is the bimah (raised orator’s platform) and has a wrought iron openwork canopy with horseshoe arches and floral motifs. Historically and age-wise, Fes is older than Marrakesh. Here are 20 attractions you must see while visiting one of the oldest medinas in the world. The old city of Medina or Fes is full of narrow lanes, beautiful soups, and ancient tombs, while the new city is left full of the familiar sounds of the modern city. Borj Nord Arms Museum. This part of the process is mesmerising, and the vats look like a giant painter’s palette from the terraces above. Some cooking classes last for only 3 hours, where you will be taught your preferred Moroccan dish. To the sides are accommodation for students and a guesthouse. From Marrakech, the train takes you to the beautiful coastline of Rabat. Since 1963 Borj Nord has housed the Museum of Arms, with a collection running to more than 5,000 pieces from Morocco, Africa, Europe and Asia, and dating from prehistory to the 1900s. Step inside for a break from bargaining and enjoy the beautiful water features, birds, plants, flowers, and palm tree-lined walkways. Drawing attention at one end of the Najjariyyin Square in the Old Medina is the magnificent five-metre gateway to this 17th-century khan (inn), crowned with an intricate cedar canopy. For shade there are palms, orange trees, pines and an avenue of skyscraping cypresses. No map can make sense of this place, and you’re sure to get lost, but that’s part of the fun. A great thing to do in Fes if you have time! Take a glimpse at the dazzling exterior of the royal palace. The rug was 2 meters long and 1.5 meters wide and we paid $150 which we thought was a fair price for a traditional Moroccan rug. Still standing from this time are the vestiges of two mausoleums with monumental horseshoe arches and faint remnants of stucco decoration. Tourists can also wander through the lovely, green palace gardens outside. Must-do activities to try on a trip to Morocco’s second city. Fes is located in the northern part of Morocco and Marrakech is in the southern part. 25 Best Things to Do in Fez (Morocco) The bewitching Medieval city of Fez was founded on the banks of the Jawhar River in the 8th century by Idris I, a descendant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Your email address will not be published. You can also visit Fes as the first stop on a Sahara Desert Tour: an incredible experience that will create lifelong memories. However, there are plenty more things to do in Fez than just visit the university or the tanneries. Highly rated budget-friendly activities in Fes: The top cheap things to do. This is because some gates of the medina will close after 7 pm, which can cause problems when returning to a hotel outside the medina walls. Pilgrims continue to visit the shrine for good luck, and Idris II has long been associated with fertility among women. Near the Andalusian Mosque is a Madrasa ordered in 1321 by the Marinid Sultan Abu al-Hassan. Although it no longer is home to the Jewish community, you can still see its rich history. Explore inside the medieval walls of the wonderfully chaotic medina, and discover towers of spices, traditional handicrafts, hammams, and tanneries. You can easily arrive from Marrakech, Rabat, or the blue city of Chefchaouen. The Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace is a former palace has been renovated into what is now a gorgeous 5-star hotel offering guests the royal treatment while visiting Fes. The … This is a great way to pick up some skills on how to prepare some delicious Moroccan dishes. However, there are a few things you should know first. This excursion you west to the ruins of the ancient Berber city of Volubilis, once of the capital of the Kingdom of Mauretania. 0 comments. The Borj Nord is designed after the Portuguese gun forts of the period, and had the dual purpose of defending Fes el-Bali, but also keeping the unruly population of the city under control. 2 Marinid Tombs. Tip: Try to spot the beautiful minaret of the mosque from one of the nearby rooftops. Traditionally this is applied to women’s hands during wedding ceremonies. The route winds up the hill through an olive grove and standing at the base of the fort’s walls you can see the entire Medina of Fez bedded in the valley, with the mountain, Jebel Zalagh, rearing up behind. Stalls here are also laden with antimony (kohl), as well as other traditional cosmetics like rosewater, rhassoul, musk and lavender essence. After going through around 20 rugs we selected our favorite one. See All 11 Places. In Morocco, all educational buildings are known as medersas, and Medersa al-Attarine is one of the finest in Fez. Grab a cheap, fresh juice every morning for the perfect start to a day of exploring. Adjacent to the gardens is the grand mosque Fes el-Jdid, with the most beautifully embellished minaret! The Funduq, commissioned by the Alaouite Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif, is preserved as a museum for woodwork. Discover hundreds of earthen pits full of various colored dye, which is used to color animal skins. Located in a peaceful area outside of the hectic medina, you’ll be just a short taxi ride away from all of of the tourist attractions in Fes. Founder of the 200-year Idrisid Dynasty, Idris II is credited with establishing the first Islamic state of Morocco. Towards the end of the 19th century Sultan Hassan I reinforced the Fes Jdid quarter with a series of fortifications. This oasis of calm, amongst the craziness of Fes, is located close to the Kairaouine Mosque and the Chouara leather tannery. It’s thrilling to think that henna has been sold at this very place for centuries. This shrine at Place de Marche Verte is considered one of the holiest sites in Morocco, holding the mausoleum of Idris II (791-828). At this historic trading post, the call of the Sahara may be impossible to ignore. Situated in Morocco's Rif Mountains, the sleepy town of Chefchaouen provides a welcome respite after the hectic pace of the country's larger cities. The powerful corner bastions are new, Alaouite-period additions. The temperatures are not too hot, and it’s not too busy with tourists. Marvel at the intricately wooden carved doors, which truly make you feel transported back to medieval Morrocco. Top Things to Do in Fez. Standout rooms are the harem and the outsized kitchen. A rare patch of green space where you can flee the crowds in the Medina for a few minutes, Jardin Jnan Sbil was allowed to fall into decline until the 2000s when it was replanted. If you find yourself here while poking around the city you’ll be confronted by a row of three heavy wooden doors in horseshoe arches and flanked by high square towers topped with pointed merlons. Don’t miss out on this great thing to do in Fes. Originally a modest construction, the mosque was enlarged and refined over the centuries. It’s located very close to the popular Bab Boujloud Gate “The Blue Gate”. You’ll hear the clang of craftsmen shaping and polishing their wares long before set foot on Place Saffarine. This shrine in Fes is dedicated to MoulayIdriss II, who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828. Read the 6 best things to see and do in Morocco. On the north side, next to the library entrance is Cremerie la Place, for a robust cup of coffee or mint tea. If you can, stay near the medina. A tile frieze above the zellige patterns on the wall to the prayer room on the courtyard has the word “Allah” in green calligraphy, painstakingly inlaid on a white background. University of al-Qarawiyyin is still highly regarded in the Muslim world, and while the modern university has been relocated to a newer part of the city, the library and mosque are still couched in the Medina. Most impressive though is the tile-cutting decoration, using a technique called “taqshir” where the tile glaze has been carefully scraped off to create a shiny pattern. Fez is one of the imperial cities of Morocco, and home to the oldest university of all time, Al Quaraouiyine Mosque. Some of the best places to dine in Fez are just inside the gateway, affording a front row view of the day-to-day in a Medieval city. Get an even faster answer from the Salt in our Hair Travel Community on Facebook. His descendants continue to live at the palace, welcoming visitors for tours, but also renting out rooms to guests. The skill and man-hours in this space boggles the mind. Stay in an authentic riad inside the medina . Fes was founded in 789 AD and Marrakesh in 1071 AD. This is beautiful on its own terms, but also gives you a better view of the mosque’s courtyard and stone minarets. My list of the best things to do in Fez is certainly not exhaustive. We’ve mentioned that the labyrinthine Fez of Medina has 9,000 alleys and 40,000 dead ends, as well as a history that is just as tangled. The CTM bus is a great option if you don’t mind a long drive. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions. For more information on what to see in Morocco, check out this article on the best things to do in Morocco! Be sure to check out the world-famous tanneries of Fes! In terms of things to see in Morocco, you can’t miss Fes! He was buried here and hundreds of Muslims pilgrimage to the mausoleum each year. Follow our travels daily on Instagram together with 250K others. Fez Morocco, the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities is a fascinating collection of urban centres built across the ages. 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