Fez is an elegant, authentic city with unique aura. Even with it maze of alleys in the old-town, the largest car-free area in the world, the town is refined, mighty and precious. A scholarly and commercial center of the Muslim world, favorite of scholars and artisans alike, Fez remains a spiritual and cultural locus. Dive in the old mythical town.
Fez is not just an old historical city. Cultural events are numerous and are an art de vivre. From the Festival of world sacred music, now famous, to the Culinary Festival, to the Festival of Sufi Culture and international conferences. Fez is an intellectual, a breeding ground for scholars and a cultural center where wise men from Andalucia, Tunisia and elsewhere used to meet. Fez inhabitants, the Fassis, are proud of their University of Al-Karaouine which they claim to be the oldest in the world, a long time before Oxford University. It is still in activity. In the Medina, Fez El Bali, get lost in the 9000 narrow and tortuous alleys where 55 000 artisans works. Stay close to the walls because donkeys are the typical means of transportation. Gaze at the ornate doors, walk down a plain-looking street and discover an exquisite fountain. Enjoy the smell of spices. Go up on a terrace: minarets are unveiled and what seems like chaos is suddenly quieter. Take a break at the Bou Inani Madrassa, an old theological college with a fine minaret.
Fez is to be discovered. Here, you will get to observe craftsmen working following century-old techniques. You will get to see craftsmen workingg on wood, making pottery and the famous “Bleu de Fès” in the South of the Medina, you will buy some babouches or some tasteful treats. Each district has its specialty. Saffarine Square is recognizable by its soundtrack. The sound might be surprising: it is craftsmen banging on copper or brass. Do not miss the Chouara Tannery, in the open-air leather tannery district. From the Middle Ages, tannery workers dye leather, following old traditions, in the multi-colored pits. Yes, it smells but as soon as you set foot on the terrace, you will forget everything about it. The view is amazing, poetic and you have the feeling you are in another century. End your visit of the Medina having a mint tea on one of the numerous rooftops or trendy riads. At diner time, follow your instinct, you have plenty of choice and the cuisine is delicious.
Away from the maze of the medina
Out of the Medina, 15 minutes away, do not miss the stunning Royal Palace on Alaouites square. From there, visit the Mellah, the old Jewish neighborhood and its synagogue, a symbol of how multi-cultural the city was. It is also a way to discover another side of the town, with a different architecture. If you are a History lover, the Merinide tombs and the spectacular views of the city should stimulate you or you can just look at the view. On Sundays, locals gather up there to relax. If you are looking for a nice retreat. The Jnane Sbil garden, designed around a lake, is a romantic oasis. Further away, 18 miles North-West, is located the thermal source of Moulay Yacoub. Perched on a hill, it is an invitation to a calm and relaxing time.
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