Fes Travel Guide
Fes, or Fez, is a city in Morocco that embodies the country's rich history, culture, and spirituality. Located in the northeast of Morocco, Fes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the oldest university in the world. In this article, we'll explore the fascinating history, culture, and spiritual significance of Fes.
The History of Fes
Fes has a long and illustrious history dating back to the 8th century when it was founded by Idris I, the first Muslim ruler of Morocco. Throughout the centuries, Fes has been a center of Islamic scholarship, trade, and culture. In the 12th century, Fes became the capital of Morocco, and during the Marinid dynasty (13th-15th centuries), it flourished as a center of learning and the arts.
The Medina of Fes
One of the most impressive features of Fes is its Medina, a walled city with narrow alleys and streets that wind through the ancient buildings and souks. The Medina of Fes is the largest and best-preserved medieval city in the world and has been inhabited for over a thousand years. A stroll through the Medina is like stepping back in time, with the sights, sounds, and smells of an ancient world.
The University of Al Quaraouiyine
Founded in the 9th century, the University of Al Quaraouiyine is the oldest continuously operating university in the world. It has a long history of scholarship and was a center for the study of Islamic law, theology, and Arabic language and literature. Today, it is still a thriving institution, and its library contains rare manuscripts and books dating back to the medieval period.
The Tanneries of Fes
Fes is famous for its leather tanneries, which have been in operation for over a thousand years. The tanneries are located in the Medina and are a fascinating sight to see. Visitors can watch as the workers prepare the leather using traditional methods and dyes made from natural materials such as saffron, indigo, and poppy flowers.
The Spiritual Significance of Fes
Fes is a deeply spiritual city and has been a center of Islamic learning and practice for centuries. It is home to numerous mosques, madrasas (Islamic schools), and zawiyas (Islamic religious centers). One of the most important religious sites in Fes is the Bou Inania Madrasa, a 14th-century Islamic school that features intricate tilework and carvings.
Festivals and Events in Fes
Fes is also known for its festivals and events, which draw visitors from around the world. One of the most famous is the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, which takes place every June and features concerts and performances by musicians and artists from around the world. Other popular events include the Festival of Sufi Culture, the Festival of Amazigh Culture, and the Fes Festival of Aissawa.
The Cuisine of Fes
Moroccan cuisine is famous for its spices and flavors, and Fes is no exception. The city is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes, such as tagine, couscous, and pastilla (a savory pie filled with meat, spices, and almonds). Visitors can sample the local cuisine in the Medina or at one of the city's many restaurants.
Accommodation in Fes
Fes offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guest Many of the hotels and guesthouses are located in the heart of the Medina, offering visitors a chance to experience the city's unique atmosphere. Some of the most popular hotels in Fes include the Palais Faraj Suites & Spa, the Riad Fes, and the Hotel Sahrai.
Exploring Fes: Tips for Visitors
If you're planning a trip to Fes, here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit:
- Wear comfortable shoes: The Medina of Fes is full of narrow, winding streets and alleys, so comfortable shoes are a must.
- Hire a guide: Exploring the Medina on your own can be overwhelming, so consider hiring a guide to show you around.
- Try the local cuisine: Fes is known for its delicious cuisine, so be sure to try some of the local dishes.
- Visit the tanneries early in the day: The tanneries can be quite smelly, so it's best to visit them early in the day before the sun heats up the leather.
- Respect local customs: Fes is a conservative city, so it's important to dress modestly and respect local customs and traditions.
Fes is a city that offers visitors a chance to experience Morocco's rich history, culture, and spirituality. Whether you're exploring the Medina, visiting the University of Al Quaraouiyine, or sampling the local cuisine, Fes is a destination that will leave a lasting impression. So why not plan a trip to Fes and discover this fascinating city for yourself?
- What is the best time to visit Fes?
The best time to visit Fes is in the spring (March to May) or the fall (September to November), when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller.
- How do I get to Fes?
Fes has an international airport (Fes-Saiss Airport) with direct flights to several European cities. You can also take a train or bus from other cities in Morocco.
- Is Fes safe for tourists?
Fes is generally a safe city for tourists, but it's important to take precautions such as avoiding walking alone at night and keeping an eye on your belongings.
- Can I visit the Medina on my own?
While it's possible to explore the Medina on your own, it can be overwhelming and confusing. Hiring a guide is a good way to get the most out of your visit.
- What is the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music?
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music is an annual music festival that takes place in June and features performances by musicians and artists from around the world. It's a celebration of music, spirituality, and cultural diversity.