Fes Travel Guide – Fez or Fes was the capital city of Morocco until 1925 and has long been regarded as the spiritual city of Morocco. The medina of Fes is one of the biggest pedestrian areas in the world besides being a UNESCO world cultural heritage. Lately, it has been outshined by Marrakech as a larger city and more targeted and visited by tourists offering them a distinctive view of Moroccan life.
There are a lot of things you can do in Morocco and Fes can be one of the targeted places that you can include in your tour.
Fes Travel Guide: History of Fes
Where is Fes?
Contemporary Fes was discovered in 789 by My Idriss on the Jawhar River that passes through the city. It is located in the north of the country placed between the Rif Mountains and Middle Atlas Mountains. Throughout 50 years there were two major waves of immigration which arrived to build colonies on both sides of the river. About 800 families came in from Andalusia establishing what is known today as “Old Fes”. As for 2000 families who were prohibited from Kariouan Tunisia constructed what is known as New Fez or al-Aliya.
This would develop later into a big matter as the Caliphate of Cordoba and the Caliphate of Tunisia disputed who controlled the city. This dispute was solved by 1070 as the Almoravid regime unified the city both metaphorically and literally speaking. That is done by breaking down and collapsing the walls which separated the establishments and unifying it into one city.
The Growth of Fes:
Fes expanded from 1170-1180 to turn into one of the biggest cities in the world outlined by the walls that were put during this time and they still constitute the frame of the city till today. Enormous advances were achieved from 1271 to 1357 especially in the field of education as seven schools were established in Fes becoming the heart of Islamic education.
Many people came to Fes to visit the Jewish area. The mellah was established in 1438 next to the royal palace and remains till today in this place.
The regimes which would come next are : the Marinid, Wattasid, Saadians and the Ottoman Empire. From 1649 Fes was a significant trading center on the Barbary Coast and was the exclusive origin of “fezzes” , the tassled hats with their red color until the 19th century. As for the red color, it originates from the berry which grows out of the city. It changed to an autonomous city in 1790 and by 1795 dominance restored to the kingdom of Morocco where it was the capital city until 1925. Concerning the time at which Morocco became a protectorate, it was in the 1912 and because of the Treaty of Fes which made Morocco a protectorate under the French rule.
In the 20th century a new province emerged out of the French protectorate with the name of the Ville Nouvelle. The 1981 was a very important date as the medina of Fez was appointed as a world cultural heritage site and the well-known World Sacred Music Festival started in 1994.
Fes Travel Guide: Places where you can go in Fes
Before choosing what you desire to visit in Fes, you have to think first because there are a lot of historical and ancient places despite the fact that not all of them are available and free for the public to watch.
The Marinid Tombs:
Are you a lover of mysteries? Do you love to discover secrets? Then this is your place. These tombs are situated above the medina of Fes on the hills. Despite the existence of some engravings there, no one actually discovers who is immersed here or the tale behind these tombs. It is a lovely place where you can go with your kids because of being car free zone and an open area. Besides its beautiful location above the medina and enfolding the hillside making it one of best locations to visit and enjoy such beautiful views.
The Famous Al-Attarine School:
Al-Attarine Madrasa is positioned near the well-known Karouine mosque and university. It was established in 1323. Here you can smell spice and perfume coming from the spice and perfume market at the side of the school. Within you will discover a magnificently constructed playground and hand-made mosaics decorating the floors and walls.
The Karaouine Mosque and University:
If you like to know the university which endowed the oldest degree in the world and which is still working, you have to visit the Karaouine university. The most interesting thing about this school and mosque that it was discovered, financed and established by a woman whose name is Fatima al- Fihri. As for the mosque part, it isn’t available for non-Muslims despite the existence of an entrance that you can investigate. Concerning other parts such as the library “the oldest in the world” joined with the university, it was regained lately and become available to the public.
Ibn Danan Synagogue:
Being one of many synagogues which were once in the medina of Fez, it has lately been renewed and protected from complete devastation due to bad conditions. It was constructed by a regional family in the mid seventeenth century and is still possessed by this family. Despite this fact, it is available and free for visitors. You can also go to the Jewish graveyard which is situated in the southwest area of the mellah and it is still used till now.
This site is very famous in Fez and it is one of the widely toured places in the city. Prepare yourself for irresistible aroma, especially in warm months. It is where you can return to the past and remember how leather was made for centuries.
Don’t feel pressed to purchase leather goods there, you will have a better chance to bargain for a better price somewhere else. Get ready to pay a little money for shopkeepers if you came onto their balcony and gave you any explanations. Some will demand some money, others won’t. So, it would be better to hire a courier for your tour.
Najjarine Museum of Wood Arts and Crafts:
The Najjarine Museum has been established in a regained mobile house or a caravan rest. As for its inside, it has been completely returned to its previous appearance in the past. You aren’t allowed to take a photo. You can enjoy beautiful sight while sitting in a café upstairs.
It my preferred place of all souks because it is so beautiful to the extent that you feel yourself watching a movie. Here, you can watch ironworkers while they are working using their hands to create beautiful and distinct designs. It is very interesting to watch the extent of work and attention that such work demands. You can also fetch some metal objects such as lamps.
Fes Travel Guide: Practical Activities
You can learn how to make bread at the Ruined Garden or you can do cooking class in Fes. If you like to do any cooking course, you have two choices that are valuable such as Café Clock.
It is an art studio that intends to maintain crafts work in Morocco living by presenting a wide range of workshops.
Going to hammam is a very good way to relax. There are two options : regional hammam which you can always visit and another kind of bath which looks like a spa in which you feel as if you were in a resort hotel.
Fez Festival of World Sacred Music:
The World Sacred Music carnival happens one time each year. Musicians from all over the world join the festival presenting many performances and activities all over the city. Some of these shows aren’t free and you need to buy tickets while others are available and free to the public. As for the time of the festival, it usually in takes place May or June.
Fez Festival of Sufi Culture:
The Sufi Culture carnival is commemorated in October over 8 days. There are a range of musical shows and mental displays and matters of discussion to praise Sufism. In addition to a wide range of shows and events arranged in this carnival.
Fes Travel Guide: Shopping in Fez
Fes al Bali:
Being home to a lot of handicrafts, Fez has a lot of nice things to watch and purchase. Some of these things which are made in Fez and which deserve to be bought are:
- Iron work such as lamps
- Zellige patchwork
- Tarbouch or the Fez
Fes Ville Nouvelle:
It is a shopping mall which is situated out of Fez. You can go there if you need any groceries or anything from this decade.
Fezzes or Tarbouches are Admirable:
The name of tarbouch or Fez comes from the name of the city in which the tarbouch was first made that is Fez. Nowadays, fezzes are still famous because of performances and shows like Dr. Who. You can take one of these hats while you are in the city. There are both low cost and expensive, well formulated ones. If you don’t have the opportunity to visit Fez, then you can buy these hats online.
Fes Travel Guide: Where you can eat in Fes
If you are searching for a conventional Moroccan food, then you should go to Fez because it has a great culture concerning food due to acting as the majestic capital for centuries.
This is one of my lovely restaurants because of the impressive Chef Najat. It is where you feel that it deserves to waste your money eating in it. So, it is the first restaurant that you should arrange to visit in your trip. But you have to book in advance.
Maison Moi Anan:
As a change from Moroccan restaurants, you can try Thai restaurants and food.
Placed in a very beautiful garden, you are advised to eat lunch in this nice renovated riad with its charming blend of Mediterranean and Moroccan food. There is also alcohol if you desire to drink.
If you desire a delicious French and Mediterranean food, then you should reserve a table here. As for the menu, it changes and rotates every day and all over the seasons. Therefore, you won’t be able to know what they present. There are just five tables open here so you have to reserve your table before coming.
One of the visitors’ favorite is Café Clock because of its awful camel burger, free WIFI and its great malted milk.
Situated just within the blue gate, it is one of the exclusively restaurants that I would suggest because of many reasons such as its homemade Moroccan food and its appropriate prices. It is where you can experience the tastes you would find at your home.
If you love to eat while walking, then you should try this Rcif neighboring market and buy street food in the evenings. Go there and try boiled or fried meat and more..
Fes Travel Guide: Where to Stay in Fez
Hotels and Riads in Fez:
One of the main places that you will find in Morocco is the riad, but they aren’t present in all cities. In Fez, you can find both great riads and hotels. So if you love more luxuries and comforts, you can choose hotels.
This previous castle which exists in the center of medina has been rebuilt and renovated to function as a hotel. Together with an all- embracing breakfast, there are in house sauna treating therapies such as a hammam which is open to visitors.
10 years was the time that this wonderful riad has taken to be renovated. It is situated at the back of the medina in the Rcif neighborhood. Here, you will have a distinctive adventure than your experience in the heart of medina because of being a calm place and because of the attractive places that surround it.
Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace:
The new Marriott property is remodeled lately in 2015. It is a good choice for you if you desire to stay out of the medina in the Ville Nouvelle providing a wonderful swimming pool and big breakfast for visitors.
Ibis Budget Fez:
If you are searching for a friendly budget choice, then think about the Ibis. Rooms are equipped with air conditioning. It is true that they are simple and primary but they are tidy and neat at the same time. This hotel is somewhat 3 km from the train station. In addition to the existence of a Marjane grocery store along the street in case you want to fetch anything to eat or drink.
Le Jardin des Biehn:
Anticipate a wonderful playground, hammam, and distinctive rooms at this transferred riad. Try to join one of their cooking courses or a meal. Another advantage you can get is that there is a vessel back and forth the airport.
This riad exists in the center of the medina of Fez providing a lot of comfort , intimacy and quietness for an appropriate price. If you are visiting Fez by means of a car, the parking lot is very near, something difficult to find in other areas. There are various rooms that differ in size and outlook. So you have to reserve early for the size and view you desire.
Palais Sheherazade and Spa:
This previous castle has been charmingly regained to its original grandeur. There is a swimming pool inside, hammam and in house sauna for visitors. In addition to the existence of a great restaurant that delivers traditional dishes for both lunch and dinner which is an addition to your visit to this place.
Fes Travel Guide: Day Trips from Fez
Fez is a wonderful place to start with and go for more findings of the neighboring region. There are a lot of locations that can quickly be visited and they don’t need staying at night to enjoy.
It might be the longest excursion to take but renting a driver will make it much simpler.
We took a day trip to this destination to have a look at the cheese farm. I can describe this trip as being excellent in which our kids enjoy the nearby countryside.
It is the most distinctive un-Moroccan city in the country where you can go and admire walking in the forest.
It is one of the ancient cultural sites in the country being more than 2000 years old. There isn’t a lot of shadow and a little of walking so remember this if you arrange for a visit to this place. It is advised to rent a courier in order to give you some background