Fez Travel Guide
Why? When you travel to Fez, you not only travel to a
busy Moroccan city, but also travel about 1,000 years back in time.
The modern world has barely intruded into the labyrinthine warren
that makes up the medieval medina (old quarter) of this ancient
city, where donkeys carry merchandise to and from the souks through
crammed alleyways overshadowed by minarets, and the stench of
tanneries permeates the air. A holiday in Fez is an exotic,
fascinating experience that will not be forgotten in a hurry.
When? Summers in Morocco are extremely hot, and winters very cold; therefore it is best to travel to Fez in spring (April to June) or autumn (September to November), when the weather is warm and dry.
Who for? Anyone in love with the romantic notion of Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Arabian Nights will be drawn to holiday in Fez, but the reality of the sights, sounds and smells of the ancient Medina may come as a shock. Travellers willing to plunge into this sensory overload will be rewarded with an unforgettable experience. Bargain-hunters who love seeking out local handcrafts and exotic goods will relish the souks (bazaars).
More Info? Whether you travel to Fez as an individual or as part of a package tour it is wise to learn as much as possible about this fascinating destination from our comprehensive Fez travel guide, which contains everything from entry requirements, and health and safety information, to details of historic attractions.
Fez fountain © Judith Duk
Fez is the cultural and spiritual centre of Morocco. It was founded in 790 AD by Moulay Idriss II and is the oldest of the three Imperial Cities. The main attraction in this ancient city is the medieval Medina, the old part of the city, which has been continuously inhabited since the 10th century and still bustles with a bewildering throng of colourfully-costumed locals; from olive-dealers and veiled women on their way to the baths, to industrious merchants and traditional bell-ringing water-sellers. The Medina of Fez is the most complete medieval city still in existence, it's preservation having been instigated under French occupation, and it forms a working model of the way life was lived when the world was still young. The more modern part of the city is known as Ville Nouvelle, and has a decidedly French influence.
A guided tour is the easiest way to tackle the buzzing hive that is traditional Fez - but the brave can take on the teeming alleyways, too narrow for motor vehicles, and risk getting lost and having to haggle with a local to be guided back out. Laden donkeys negotiate the steep cobbled lanes, and the buzz of buying and selling is often interrupted by the urgent cries of mule drivers or deliverymen pushing heavy and ungainly carts warning shoppers to flatten themselves against the walls or be flattened themselves. A visit to the souks will undoubtedly lead to a stopover at Fez's famous tanneries, where one of the oldest arts in Morocco (and the world) is practiced, and where tourists can buy premium soft leather products to take home as Moroccan souvenirs.
The best vantage point over the ancient walled city, which lies at the eastern end of the plain of Saiss, bordered by the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, is from the ruined Merenid tombs on a nearby hilltop. From here it is possible to view the skyline with its profusion of satellite dishes, and to pick out some of the magnificent palaces, green-roofed holy places and the Karaouine Mosque, all hemmed in by workshops and tenements, souks and squares, a mass of humanity and the ubiquitous donkeys. Fez might be a secretive and shadowy place, but it is captivating and colourful at the same time, and wonderful destination for those looking to have a real cultural experience during their holiday in Morocco.
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