What to see in Fez
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. In this old quarter most of the city's main tourist attractions can be found, including the shrine that houses the remains of the founder of the city of Fez, Moulay Idriss II, which is one of the holiest buildings in the city.
There are several gates allowing entry to the ancient town of Fez: Bab Bou Jeloud, the western gate, has bright decorations and hotels and cafes grouped around it; Bab Er Rsif is the central gate, opening onto the square in front of the mosque of the same name; Bab el-Ftouh is the southeast gate giving onto the cemeteries; and Bab Guissa, the north gate, lies on the hillside close to the Merenid tombs vantage point. The principal entrance for tourists is the Bab Bou Jeloud, which was constructed in the modern era in 1913 but appears deceptively older with its tiled facade.
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 in some ways; although there is certainly beauty and exoticism to be found, this is very much a lived in place, full of the dirt and chaos of many people. Due to this confusion of things to see and do, and the maze-like nature of the old quarter, it is often best to join a walking tour or hire a local guide. Travellers willing to plunge into the sensory overload will be richly rewarded! Bargain-hunters who love seeking out local handcrafts and exotic goods will relish the souks (bazaars).
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