Fez, Morocco

Landmarks of Fez, Morocco

The Moroccan city of Fez or Fes is part of the four royal cities. It is considered the cultural and spiritual capital of the country. And it is the cradle of more than a thousand years of monarchy. The other imperial cities of Morocco are Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat. Although Fez is a little less known than the city of Marrakech, it certainly has a lot to offer. For example, the Medina of Fez, which is part of Unesco’s World Heritage, is an inspiring part of the city in which all senses are stimulated. The network of winding alleys can best be described as a maze. Street names are often not there and in fact they are superfluous. The colors and smells usually lead the way here. Fez is certainly a fascinating city with a lot of culture and history. For example, the Spanish-Moorish culture is also visible in various places. A good example of this is the Zaouia Moulay Idriss II mosque. This structure containing the tomb of the patron saint of the city of Fez is a true gem. But also the palaces, spice shops, Quran schools, mosques and old crafts provide a lot of surprise time and time again when you walk through the streets of Fez.

Top 10 sights of Fes

#1. Madinah

According to Computergees.com, the old town of Fez is referred to as Medina. This part of the city of Fez is full of historical and monumental buildings. The greatest heyday was between the thirteenth and fourteenth century. At that time, Fez was named the capital instead of Marrakech. Eventually this became Rabat. The medina of Fez is a maze of narrow streets lined with small shops, market vendors, fresh produce, spices, tanneries, donkeys and old crafts. Sometimes it really seems like a trip back in time. Orange crates are transported to their destination on donkey carts. The most beautiful carpets are knotted in various places, wicker baskets are put together and the butcher happily chops them away in his little shop. In between are all kinds of places of interest, including the Quran school ‘Bou Inania Medersa’, the garden ‘Jardin Jnan Sbil’, tannery ‘Moulay Abdellah Quarter’ and the mosque ‘Djemaa el Kairaouine’. The smells and colors within the Medina of Fez will be etched in your memory for a long time.

#2. Bab Bou Jeloud

The gateway to the old Medina of Fez is called Bab Bou Jeloud. The gate, which is officially seen as the main entrance, is supported by high walls that separate Fez el-Bali (old part) from Fez el-Jedid (new part). The Moorish architectural style is clearly visible at Bab Bou Jeloud. Around 1913 this gate was inlaid with a beautiful blue color. The Medina side is colored in green.

#3. Karaouin Mosque

The Karaouine mosque is actually a university. It is also seen by connoisseurs as the oldest still operating university in the world. You can still go here for a university religious study. As early as the ninth century, the Karaouine or Al Quaraouiyine mosque was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, daughter of a wealthy merchant. Originally, the Karaouine mosque was to be an average mosque in terms of size. But in the end it turned out to be quite a large mosque. The structure is supported by no fewer than two hundred and seventy pillars. The Karaouine mosque is unfortunately not accessible to non-Muslims. However, it is worth walking around it.

#4. Royal Palace Dar el Makhzen

In the modern district of Fes el-Jedid is the royal palace Dar el-Makhzen. The most powerful sultans once resided in this thirteenth century palace on the Rue Essafae. It is now more of a government building where the King of Morocco occasionally resides. The richly decorated Moorish gates give the palace a stately appearance. The high walls reinforce this feeling.

#5. Madrasa Bou Inania

The Madrassa Bou Inania religious school was built between 1350 and 1350 by order of Sultan Abu Annan Almareni. This most popular madrasa in Fez is used as a school and a mosque on Fridays. As in every mosque, there is also a general washing room where ritual washings are done before entering the prayer room. This space is called ‘dar al-wuḍūʾ’. Other areas are furnished as classrooms. The water clock in the ‘Dar al-Magana’ is a special reference to history. At that time, units of time were determined by means of water reservoirs, as we now know with hourglasses.

#6. Quarters of the Tanneurs

The old traditional tanning of leathers is still widely practiced in Morocco. At Quartiers des Tanneurs you can witness this laborious job with all your senses. This tannery is located in one of the busiest areas in the Medina of Fez. Several earthenware ‘bathtubs’ are filled with water, colored liquids and large pieces of leather. The skins used are mostly the remains of goats, horses, donkeys, sheep and dromedaries. After a rinse in one of the baths, the skins are left to dry in the sun. This process of tanning has been done this way since the Middle Ages. This craft is often passed on within a family and/or family. Various leather products are offered in several places in Fez that have been processed at Quartiers des Tanneurs. Think of wallets, slippers, bags and jackets.

#7. Nejjarine Museum of Wood Arts and Crafts

Various handicrafts are still carried out in the city of Fez. Often in an authentic way. At the Nejjarine Museum of Wood Arts and Crafts you can discover a variety of works of art and other crafts that are still being performed elsewhere in the city. For example, there are musical instruments and old furniture to admire. The building itself also deserves admiration. From the roof terrace you have a nice view over the city.

#8. Borj North

The current Borj Nord fortress of Fez is a 16th century defensive structure. It was built at the time by the order of Sultan Ahmed al-Mansur, who is also known as Ad-Dhahbi. He was the sixth sultan of the Saadian dynasty. From the terrace, the enemies could be kept at a distance by means of cannons. With the construction of the Borj Nord fortress, the weight was already taken into account at the time. From here you immediately have a beautiful panoramic view of the city of Fez. In addition to its function as a fortress, the Borj Nord has also served as a prison and barracks. It currently houses a military museum.

#9. Ibn Danan Synagogue

The seventeenth-century Ibn Danan Synagogue is located in the Fes el-Jedid district, not far from the Semmarin Medina city gate. The synagogue is named after the Ibn Danan family. The Jewish community that lived behind the Ibn Danan Synagogue in the Mellah district during the seventeenth century consisted of some twenty-two thousand people. Clear Islamic and Moroccan influences can be recognized in the building. After the closure of the doors during World War II, the Ibn Danan Synagogue fell into disrepair. Fortunately, the city has recognized its cultural importance and has taken action, partly thanks to the Ministry of Culture and the Jewish community in Fez. The Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Danan Synagogue in the Medina of Fez is today a popular landmark and a reminder of the past. There are more than twenty synagogues in the Moroccan city of Fez. However, most are closed.

#10. Dar Batha

The nineteenth-century Dar Batha palace is a beautiful landmark in Fez. It is located opposite the Madrassa Bou Inania in the old Medina. The order to build the Dar Batha palace came from the king of Morocco, El-Hassan ben Mohammed ben Youssef el-Aloui or Hassan II. Dar Batha has been set up as a museum since 1915. Enthusiasts can enjoy beautiful decoration, fountains, courtyards, pottery, jewelry and other objects.

Fez, Morocco

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