Fes is the oldest and largest Medina in Africa. It is the spiritual and cultural capital of Morocco. Medina of Fes is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is one of the largest car-free-urban areas in the world. So, if you had not been to Fes before and thinking to visit it, here I will share with you 10 fascinating things to do in Fes.
1. The Bou Inania Madrassa
Bou Inania Madrassa was once a school. It is a historic religious site in the centre of the Medina of Fes. It is one of the few religious sites in Fes that non-muslims may visit, so they can enjoy its extraordinary architecture. The elegant marble courtyard, the complex wood carvings and the mosaic tilework of this magical Bou Inania Madrassa are worth the visit.
2. Karaouine Mosque and University
Karaouine University is one of the oldest universities in the World. It operates as a university and a mosque at the same time. It is one of the important religious sites in Medina of Fes. Unlike Bou Inania Madrassa, non-muslims people are not allowed to enter this holy building where people pray. However, you can take a glimpse through its giant gates and see the magnificent marble courtyard, tiles, arches and carvings.
3. The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace, or The Dar el Makhzen, was built in the 1960s. It is frequently used by the royal family. It is a masterpiece of craftwork. Tourists unfortunately are not allowed to explore the palace, yet you can take a glimpse from one of the majestic gates. its stunning walls, bronze doors and mosaic tiles make it one of the top historical sites tourists visit.
4. The Chouara Tanneries
Visiting Medina of Fes means visiting the Chouara Tanneries of Fes. This site is one of the most visited sites in the city. To have a unique bird’s view, you may get upon the rooftops of the surrounding leather stores to enjoy watching how leather hides are produced in an old-fashioned way. Keep in mind, that the smell is quite strong, so make sure to take a scarf with you, yet locals offer visitors mint leaves to handle the smell most of the time.
5. Get lost in Medina alleyways
The old Medina of Fes is a maze of narrow alleyways. There are over 9000 narrow alleyways which make the Medina of Fes the largest car-free urban area in the world. It is the best place to get lost in. Yet, if you want to enjoy the beauty of this maze, it is better to look for a guide so that you get the best out of your walking tour.
6. Jnan Sbil gardens
Built over a century ago, Jnan Sbil gardens is the only public garden in the Medina of Fes. It is a nice oasis of nature. This beautifully landscaped garden is the best place where you can enjoy a breath of fresh air after a busy day in Medina. Once you step inside, You will find beautiful zellij-tiled water gardens, tranquil fountains, fragrant flowers and poplar trees.
7. Borj Nord
Borj Nord, or Alborj ash-Shamali, was built in the 16th century by Saadian Sultan Ahmed Al-Mansour. It was built over a hill overlooking the Old Medina of Fes so that the Sultan keeps an eye on his people. Now, it operates as an arms museum, containing a mixed collection of over 5000 weapons spread over 14 chambers. There are impressive cannons, swords, and guns of all sorts. So, if you want to explore weapons of all eras and enjoy a panoramic view of the Old City, visit Borj Nord.
8. Nejjarine Museum
Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts is a wonderfully restored founduq. Here, you will discover magnificent examples of fine Moroccan woodwork including a varied collection of craftsman’s tools, and musical instruments. I would like to highlight the fantastic wooden boards that Quranic recitation students use and also the rooftop coffee shop that offers a panoramic view over the Medina of Fes.
9. The Aben Danan Synagogue
The Aben Danan Synagogue, or Ibn Danan Synagogue, is located in the Mellah district. It is a Jewish Synagogue. Mimoun Ben Sidan, a wealthy Jewish trader from Ait Ishaq town, built it to serve more than 1500 Jewish families who were moved from Spain to Fes. The Synagogue contains magnificent green tiles, hangings, pillars, and chandeliers. Also, don’t forget to check out the Torah scrolls, Elija’s Chair, and the mikvah, a ritual bath.
10. Sunset on a rooftop
Watching the sunset on a rooftop is a must when you are in Medina of Fes. The view from a rooftop terrace is breathtaking. You can enjoy seeing the whole old city. What is more fascinating is watching the sun setting behind this maze-like city and the lights turning on. It is a relaxing experience.