Africa

Fez – the Capital of the Ancient Morocco

Fez is the third largest city in Morocco and the capital city of Fes-Boulemane region. It is one of the country’s four “imperial cities”, it has the best preserved old city in the Muslim world and boasts the world’s largest car-free area. Such a sight is worthy of our and your attention!

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Planning a trip to Fez can be very tricky. The city is divided in three regions: Fez el Bali (the medieval walled city), Fez-Jdid (new Fez, also the home of the Mellah – a Jewish neighborhood, equivalent to the ghetto) and Ville Nouvelle (created by the French, the newest part of the city). Based on what area you choose to stay in, your experience can be more or less pleasant.

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Make sure to find out where the hotels in Fez are located, before booking one, since some travel agents do not recommend visiting Fez el Bali without a guide, due to it’s labyrinth streets and alleys.  Still, if you’re the adventurous type and you don’t mind wandering around, you just have to know that when walking downwards, you’re heading for the city center, while streets going up will take you out of Fez el Bali.

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Fez el Bali is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its medina is considered to be the largest in the world. This ancient part of the city comprises the oldest university in the world – The University of Al-Karaouine, founded in 859 C.E. The university also has a mosque, since it was originally built as a mosque school. It has a simple design but aesthetically impressive, with plain white arches and floors covered in red mats.

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Another impressive structure in Fez el Bali is Bou Inania Madrasa. This is the only madrasa (public Islamic school) in Fez that has a minaret. Once in Fez el Bali, do not miss the walls and the gates of the ancient town. Keep this as a point of reference. From here you can easily get to Barj Nord (a museum of weapons) and Dar Batha (a museum of Moroccan arts), as well as the Royal Palace (Dar el Makhzen). The last one includes over 80 hectares of gardens, mosques and ancient madrasa. Although visiting it is forbidden, you can settle for a view from outside.

Image by OliverN5

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All in all, Fez is a spectacular sight with unique architecture and historic value. Its labyrinth streets offers you plenty of surprises to keep you coming back for more!