FES The Imperial city

Fes, the town of 1200 years old, it’s my favorite place in Morocco, not only because it’s unique but it is also my hometown, the adjectives, photos and videos are not enough to describe it, Is a story which is dictated through its alleys, in its Medersas (traditional schools) in the corners of its riads, but also and especially between its inhabitants who will tell you the history of their imperial city with great pride, why Not and their city has a university considered the oldest in the world by Unesco, the Guinness of Records and many historians “Al Quaraouiyine University”, it is still active, its construction was initiated in 859 Under the reign of the idrissid dynasty.

This is one of the reasons that will surely invite you to visit this beautiful country full of history and colors, you must know that in Morocco there are four imperial cities: Fes, Meknes, Marrakech and Rabat, this last one is the Current administrative capital of the country.

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Choose your own adventure, let yourself go in its narrow streets, mix yourself with the local population, you will be lost but fear nothing you will end up finding your way.

In this post I will share with you many beautiful photos and videos that I have realized over several periods, even thousands of photos and reports can not replace a real visit on the spot, all the following will represent a small part of the thousand and one Stories of this beautiful corner of the world that I strongly advise you to visit at least once in your life.

I will also give you some practical tips and tricks that will help you make your trip in the best conditions.

Fes has more than 1.2 million inhabitants making it the second largest city of the kingdom of Morocco, the old city (medina), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been at various times the country’s capital and Is considered today as its spiritual capital.

In Fes you have that old city but also the new one “Fez El Jedid”, no comparison between the two places, it is like you travels through the time passing from one to the other.

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There is only one way to visit this old city; It is on foot.

If you do not dare to travel alone or have little time, if you prefer to have organized everything in advance, you can consult sites that offer this kind of service like Neckerman or a Moroccan site which is also good to found what you look for  (http://www.jevoyage.ma/voyages-organises)

THE MEDINA

In the medina of Fez, there are about 300,000 inhabitants with a network of streets almost impossible to put on a map. My advice is to remove the fear you may have in the beginning especially with really narrow and dark streets, in some of them you see almost nothing!

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So for the first few days I advise you to visit it during the day especially if it is your first time, and if you are curios like me and you need to see more and more, with its 30,000 ways The challenge is difficult to overcome. Yes, do it during the day. Early in the morning, you will not miss the beginnings of a normal day at the locals, the opening of the shops, small craft workshops and bazaars, donkeys and mules transporting the goods, Materials and necessities, you have to be careful when they pass, you will still hear their paws but also a strong voice coming from their master who warns you to yield the passage, let yourself be enchanted by the magic of its alleys, take away by the Smells of restaurants and shops that sell specialties and delights of the city you will be taken continuously in time at every corner and in every corner even a week will not be enough to discover everything especially if you are ultra curious like me and want to discover everything.

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Personally, I think it is better to stay inside the medina or nearby in order to visit the maximum of the city. The other option is to stay in the new area in Fes el Bali and Fez El Jedid, which means Fes the old and Fez the New. You can spend several days in Fes and continue to get lost in the medina, in your trip try to take as reference the two main arteries, Talaa Kebira and Talaa Seghira, you will walk several kilometers but you will not feel them because of the magic of the places and especially between these shops and bazaars filled with decorations and products of the local craftsmanship, you will feel like in The Alibaba barracks, if you get tired, a specially on the return way, You can take a Taxi in one of the exits or gates that lead to the main roads outside the Medina walls, ask the Taxi driver to drop you off at your starting point.

Normally no fears for traps with taxis, those are normally equipped with meter which shows you the price to pay at the end, it’s little bite more expensive after 8pm.

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Do not forget to stop somewhere to drink a cup of coffee or a tea and to rest, to be done I advise you the coffee Clock, which will allow you to enjoy at the same time magnificent views on the terrace. There are many things to do and to see in Fez, mosques, medersas, mausoleums, historical monuments and beautiful doors to the cemetery at dusk in the suburbs with a great view of the city, In some of its Hammam, or simply blend with its local people and share their little stories, being used to tourists, social contact is very easy and you will even be surprised at the level of the foreign languages that some of them can talk.

The Medina has about 15 km of road to walk. The city has natural thermal places like Sidi Harazem which is some 10 km far from the city of Fes, and Moulay Yaakoub which is 21km north west of the city of Fes, there you can found a luxury hotels and a spa complex for Care and well-being with international standards.

The Medina also has its nightlife, it’s stay moving even late at night, you can dine or drink a mint tea in one of the many restaurants at the entrance to the green door or the blue door, two Majestic doors  that you can not miss since these are the entrance gates of the Medina in two different places, the blue and green reflect the colors of the Islam.

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A medieval world

When you walk in the Medina alleys you will see mysterious doors half open, incredible riads , other alleys that lead to arteries or small squares where small shops and workshops of craftsmen meet.

Wandering through these streets, you will have the opportunity to see the water clock on the front of a Medersa, designed by an amateur watchmaker with lot of talent, a wonderful source where everyone comes to refresh themselves in the square Carpenters (Nejarinne), very close to the place where the wedding thrones are made and sold.

Fez is known for its crafts … tannery, ceramics, bronze, clay, wrought iron, traditional clothes and slippers. Go and take a closer look at them, you can even see how the craftsmen do it.

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The Riads

The Riads are typical Moroccan houses they are built according to a specific model of architecture. The traditional riad is built square around a garden planted in the main patio. The living rooms and bedrooms are distributed all around the garden patio, there is often a fountain placed in the center of the ground floor which allows a certain freshness to the whole house.

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Now, a Riad is more than a house. A riad is a concept, an idea for the trip, a conclusion of the perfect holidays with the ideal place for accommodation in Morocco. Cities such as Marrakech, Fez, Essaouira and Ouarzazate are the usual places for riads. These cities offer a wide variety of riads and guest houses that you can choose to stay during your holidays in Morocco.

Among the most famous Riads in Fes especially in the Medina, there is Riad Al Pacha (http://www.riadpacha.com) / Riad Al atik (http://www.riyad-alatik.com)

The price of a night in a Riad can vary between 70 and $ depending on the season but also on the level of luxury and services presented.

The tanner’s place

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In the early morning you can visit the tannery area where they manufacture the leather, the “Tanners’ Square” is in the center of the old medina, Fez el Bali, really spectacular, a typical place, although the smell is Unbearable, but worth it, you will see men nestled in barrels where they wash and prepare the skins of the animals at the risk of their health. The skin will then be dried in the sun and then dyed using natural materials, Example of mealybugs or saffron for the yellow color, which explains the high prices of some items. You can climb one of the terraces of neighboring shops and take pictures, you can also walk along the river and see the process of skin tinting.

Once cooked, the leather will be used to make jackets, skirts, trousers, slippers, stool, wallet … so you can obtain for example sandals in real leather with a price which varies between 10 and 15 $, the Prices in Morocco are always negotiable.

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The small citadel of fez Place R’CIF

Access point to the Andalusian quarter. Wide in size, it is a space of convergence and exchanges serving the whole district, the seat of an intense craft activity. Its visit allows to discover a typical neighborhood and many craftsmen at work, such as the dyers of the street Sebbaghine, just after having borrowed the bridge Terrafine. Overlooking the square there is the R’cif mosque, the elegant minaret which was built on the order of the Sultan Alaouite Moulay Slimane, in the eighteenth century. A narrow covered gallery along the route of the square. The souk, which occupies the front of the shops of the gallery, offers fresh produce : vegetables, fish and meats, as well as fine pastilla leaves prepared on a large sphere of metal and the famous dried and confit meat of Fez, khlyê . In order to better integrate its architectural, urban and environmental qualities, the R’cif square has been redeveloped. Close to the square is a small public garden, it’s a place for relaxing and people meeting.

Seffarine plaine

One of the most charming and authentic squares of Fez is composed mostly of stalls of dinandier’s. Within this square you will found the library of the University Al Qaraouiyine and the medersa which has the same name (Seffarine) built by the Sultan Merinide Abou Youssef in 1280.

The dinandier’s and boilermakers are grouped around this square and also in the adjacent streets. It hammers, it shines, it gives a nice symphony.