The oldest Moroccan imperial city, Fes, has been hiding behind the shadows of big cities like Marrakech and Casablanca. Little do people know that there is a new wave of restored luxury Riads and innovative food scenes complementing the city’s local culture.
Photography by Svadore
Fes is probably one of the most underrated cities in Morocco. When you hear that people are traveling to Morocco, you here that they are going to Casablanca or Marrakech. Little do they know that the true gem of Morocco lies in it’s old imperial city–Fes. Not known to many tourists, aside from the French, Fes is a medieval Medina on the central North Eastern part of Morocco. Just four hours from Casablanca and seven hours from Tangier (the northern most tip of Morocco that meets with Spain). Among all the cities we visited in Morocco, Fes was our favorite. Not only because of the people and the ambiance, but because of it’s structure and history as well. If you are planning a trip to Fes or to Morocco in general and would like a more curated itinerary, reach out to me on my Plan Your Trip page. But if you have a limited time in Fes and want to know the must-hit spots, here’s my recommendations:
Get Lost in Medina
Google will tell you time and time again–it is imperative to get a guide. The medina has over 1000 alleyways, even locals get lost in it. This is absolutely not true. Even our receptionist from our Riad told us that it is not true that we need a guide. There are two main streets in Morocco that both stem from the Blue gate, also known as Bab Boujloud, you start there and just get lost in the medina. Any time you feel like you don’t know your way back or where you are going, there are signs all over the city telling you in which direction the main attractions are. Even the most clueless of people can find their way around this Medina.
Bab Boujloud (Blue Gate)
The adventure begins at Bab Boujloud! The entrance to the old medina and it’s two main roads. At first impact, you will feel overwhelmed by the spices, chicken and roosters casually walking by you by at the food markets, and camel heads hanging from the butcher’s markets…but it is a sight to behold. If you make it through the markets, you will soon make it to the more calm artisanal streets selling leather shoes, wooden boxes and accessories, metal jewelry and woven bags.
One of the first stops that connects the two main roads of Rue Talaa Sghira nad Rue Talaa Kebira is the marvelous rainbow street. Filled with art, mirrors, bracelets, and rugs, believe it or not it is not a piece of art but a store! Everything in the street is for sale.
Medersa Bou Inania
From the dark carved wood, to the stucco, this Islamic institution is one of the few that is still active today and serves as a student college and dormitory for students who attend Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque & University.
Walk down the main streets of Rue Talaa Sghira and Rue Talaa Kebira
Madrasa Al Attarine
Close to Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque & University, the first university in the world and the oldest active university to this day, Madrasa Al Attarine is another historic marvel within the medieval medina.
Place Seffarine (the metal workers souk!)
Known for its metal products, Fes has a soul solely dedicated to its coppersmiths and metal workers. As you walk around the square, you hear the clanging of copper and brass against hammers as the artisans produce their pieces utilizing century old metalworking methods.
Walk through the Nejjarine and enjoy mint tea on the rooftop for a breath-taking view of Fes
If you have chosen to visit Morocco, one of the reasons is probably because of the jaw dropping architecture. Morocco is known for it’s stucco and wood structures, Nejjarine is dedicated specifically to the unique wood carving skills they are famous for. If you are able to make your way to the top of this four floor building, you’ll find a quaint rooftop that offers mint tea as you overlook the Medina. And all of this, only for $2..!
Additional day trips include a quick drive to the ancient city of Mèknes and the remnants of temples at Volubilis.