The city, which has the largest medina and the world's oldest university. It's a crowded and bustling heart of Morocco – Fez, filled with the scent of Orient and tanned skin.
The city is one of the most famous places in this exotic country, and should therefore be included on the list of “must-sees” while in Morocco. Right here is located the University of Al-Karaouine (al-Qarawiyyin), the world’s oldest university according to Guinness World Records and UNESCO. Also here you will find the world's largest Medina, the view of which can make you dizzy, or even feel claustrophobic. After returning to Poland, even the owner of a very cramped bedsitter will look at his apartment differently, surprised with its spaciousness.
Scents of Fez
Fez is a colorful place filled with scents. Interestingly, here you will encounter an odd combination of beautiful oriental aromas with a merciless stench. This extremely intense odor floats over the tanneries and dyers- places, of which the city is famous. Despite the dubious pleasure of communing with the aroma of tanned leather, tanneries themselves are pretty popular among tourists, tempting them with their extremely alluring look. Wandering between dyers pits resembles an ant’s walk on a palette of some giant artist. Pits flooded with dyes and hard-working tanners, wholly covered with paint are a really unforgettable view for a tourist from Europe.
Not to leave the impression that Fez is a place only for those devoid of the sense of smell, just say a word about the local cuisine. Deliciously aromatic, rich in spices, colors and shapes dishes served by the restaurants and diners will delight every visitor, who enjoys experimenting. Amazing harira, a soup made of lamb, lentils, chickpeas and broad beans, served with dates, or dates pie only waits to please your taste buds. Before sightseeing, you can also recharge your batteries thanks to bissara, a very thick soup made of mixed broad beans, lemon and garlic.
The green soup perfectly harmonizes with green mint tea, sipped here very often. Well, the mint itself will be a common companion during our Moroccan trips - be it in the form of a drink, or inhaler rescuing the nose from the tannery “aromas”.
A must-sees in the heart of Morocco
The already mentioned medina, the old part of the city with a mass of stalls with spices and perfumes is also filled with all sorts of aromas. It consists of a huge labyrinth of winding, narrow streets, with laden donkeys slowly wandering though it, numerous mosques and squares with fountains, as well as luxury hotels and little restaurants. Here, we’re surrounded by craft workshops, stalls and smaller or larger soup-kitchens. Little streets branch from the main streets, through which you sometimes have to push. The whole is wrapped with a thick chain of walls with gates, crowned with solid defense towers. It’s worth to know that since 1981 the Medina of Fez is included in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
We'll get to it through one of the several gates. The biggest popularity enjoys Bab Bou Jeloud, a monumental gateway intricately decorated with ceramic tiles zelij. Their complex ornamentation won’t let you take your eyes off, so most of the tourists just stand in front of it completely mesmerized, feeding the senses with the view of an amazing pattern of glittering tiles.
One of another great attractions is the Museum of Moroccan Arts. We find it on the border of the old and new parts of the city. Delicious late medieval palace built in the Spanish style attracts tourists with a great collection of exhibits, many of which come from non-existent today madrassas and mosques. What’s hidden in the spacious halls of the museum? The famous pottery in blue color, an impressive collection of ceramics, Berber kilims, colorful rugs and textiles. Besides the splendor of the building structure and wealth of the exhibits, visitors are also impressed by a charming, Andalusian-style garden located in the courtyard.
Breath of the Orient
The most beautiful panoramic view of Fez stretches from the roofs of Bou Inania, one of the city's most famous madrassas, or Koranic schools. It’s one of the few Moroccan religious buildings that can be visited, so while staying in Fez it’s really worth it do it. Just like to visit the madrassa Al-Attarine, located next to the world’s oldest university. Richly decorated interiors of the building capture the eye, bewildering with the abundance of design and attention to detail. The roof is overlooking the university’s courtyard, and the walls of madrassa hide an extremely valuable library collections, including Jewish and Arabic manuscripts.
Those, willing to stay longer in the city or its suburbs have a huge selection of hotels and guesthouses of various standards. They can also stop at one of the few neighboring campsites, for example, on the huge Camping International Fez. It’s located 700 meters from the border of Fez, and accommodation here costs about 11 EUR (the price includes the vehicle, 2 persons and access to electricity and hot water).
And what's next? At a distance of about 200 km from Fez is the capital city, Rabat, and a little further – Tangier. Rested, refreshed, we can move on, to the Moroccan adventure.