Russian Italiano Francaise English 

More about Fez

Fez is the third imperial city: the oldest but above all the most real and the most learned. Most real because it has never put on a face for the tourists: the souqs are still markets selling crafts not junk; the large Kairouyine Mosque is entered only for prayer; and the white or pearl-grey houses in the old quarters (Fez el Bali and Fez el Jdid) show themselves as time has made them without pretence, in the precious portals of sculpted cedarwood and in the falling plaster. Riads Fez are another real wonder and a perfect place for accommodation. Enter the Medina, the largest and most intricate old centre of the Maghreb: there, in streets so narrow that two donkeys can hardly pass, amidst abandoned rubbish and flowering courtyards, you are back in the Middle Ages. But Fez is also the learned face of Morocco. This is demonstrated by the many medersa, Koranic schools where whole generations have learnt the alphabet and other things. The prime example is the Kairouyine university: the oldest in the world, it dates from 859; it is known all over North Africa because it has formed the leaders of various countries; we too owe it something, because centuries ago it had a small but great idea that changed mathematics: the number zero.

Who takes the credit for a city such as this? The Idrissid dynasty, which founded it; the Merinids who enlarged it; but also the anonymous craftsmen of various peoples (Arabs, Berbers, Andalusians, Jews) who 1200 years ago founded here a prolific multi-ethnic community Still today, Moroccan craftsmanship offers its best in Fez, the fruits of a world that elsewhere is disappearing. Every shop has its master (mallem), every district its specialization: Nejjarine is the carpenters' souqwixh their cedarwood furniture; Seffarine, the square of metalworkers and dyers, is overflowing with embossed copper and multicoloured hanks of wool hung out in the sun. On the edge of the Medina are the picturesque and famous tanneries; the smell is always tremendous down there, but those arriving are offered a fragrant twig of mint, to save their sense of smell; with that twig held to your nose you walk amid large pits of vegetable colour, where the leather is tanned and painted before being turned into bags, pouffes and belts. Fez truly has the best in craftsmanship; but for carpets is it bettered by Rabat, the fourth imperial city, former cove of pirates and today the country's capital.

More about Fes

Luxury Riad Hotel in Fes (Fez), Morocco - Back to Home Page