Where is Fes?
Fes is the heart of Morocco, its ancient capital of Morocco, one of the four oldest imperial cities, and simply a city of wonders. Its soul is hidden under a thick veil, and no man can see its whole essence during a brief, fleeting visit. Fes city is a narrow street filled with the scent of spices and mint. It is a delightful combination of Arab and African cultures. Fes is authenticity in all its manifestations.
The first reason you should travel to Morocco at every opportunity is its history. There are many legends related to the origin of the name of the city. Many believe that the name comes from the mountains of Fazaz. Some believe that Idris the First, the founder of the city, chose the name by looking at the fa's (otherwise: the pickaxe). There is also a legend that the city of Seth used to be in Fes, and Idris simply changed the letters to give the new settlement a new name. And such stories, legends and stories Fes is simply overflowing. This memory, preserved on these lands, is counted in several or even tens of thousands of years.
The peoples who lived here earlier also made a great contribution to history. In the 12th century, 200 thousand people already lived here, most of whom were Muslims from North Africa, Jews, and even Moravians. And in the 16th century, Morocco was captured by the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, Fes lost its status of the capital several times, becoming the scientific and religious center of the country, or the main trade center. Fes experienced many difficulties at different stages of history, but at the same time, it preserved its original appearance.
However, this ancient city's main feature is its division into three parts: the Old City of Fes El Bal, the city of Fes Gid from the year of 1276, and the New City of Ville Nouvelle. These are three different eras that exist in the same city.
There are not many places to see in Fes Morocco, but it allows you to see the full dignity of the Arab city. Medina is the first on the list of popularity. It's a network of narrow streets that spread like a spider web across the city. You're likely to get lost in this endless array of lanes, turns, and countless roads. All that's left is just to walk, and maybe you'll go out.
In your guidebook, you will most likely come across the second largest mosque in Morocco, the Caraouin Mosque, founded at the time the city was founded. Unfortunately, only Muslims can get acquainted with the mosque's interior because people of other faiths are not allowed to pass. One only has to be content with the architecture of the mosque outside.
During your journey, you will most likely come across Bab Abi al-Junowd or Bab Bu Jelud. This is the ornate city gate that leads to the Old Town. Initially, it looked like a perfectly ordinary gate, with an uncomplicated design, fulfilling its primary defensive function and nothing more. Over time, this gate ceased to be so useful and already played a more decorative role.
The pearl of Fes is the Bu Inania Madrassah, an ancient school built in the middle of the 12th century. Previously, up to a hundred boys could study here. Now it is just a landmark of the city with chic stained-glass windows, fountains, and rich decorations.
The Al-Attain Madrassah is considered to be an incredibly beautiful educational institution. It is a building with a sophisticated and harmonious design. Here you will find a fountain in the form of ablution flower, colored mosaics and tiles, wood and plaster carvings, incredible doors, and marble columns. This place is a real paradise for lovers of beauty.
What it's worth travel to Fes for is this charming, fairytale atmosphere. Fes is a huge blanket of light ochre roofs that slowly stretch behind a high wall and are sharply lost among the subjects of a quite modern city of concrete monoblocks. Everywhere there are restaurants, shops, and alleys of mandarin trees with bright orange balls on them. There are children everywhere, work is boiling in the markets, and no one is trying to sell you anything. Amazing life, bubbling every second.
Just walking through the bright streets, which are covered with various counters, you are already in a kind of open-air museum. There's so much around you that you just get lost from what you see. There are no repetitive species, you will never get bored, and your walks will always be accompanied by the pleasant smells of spices and fragrant herbs. Here you will see the work of many people. Their routine, and for you - the magic: mosaic masters, hammam melters, workers are dyed.
Fes el-Bali requires separate attention to itself, as it is, in fact, a highlight and pearl of Fes itself. This is the most interesting part of the city that every tourist will enjoy: there are the delightful fountains, decorated with Moroccan mosaics and donkeys loaded with goods, traveling with their owners in the narrow streets of the city, the bustle of markets, mosque towers, and madrassahs. In Fes el-Bali, you can spend several magical hours just looking at every structure, every wall, and door, because everything you see here has actually reached our days in its original form. Apart from the Old Town itself, the main attraction here is the people themselves, because without them this place will lose all its flavor and liveliness, and Fes El-Bali will become another lifeless monument of history.
In addition to the intricately woven streets, the Old City has 40 quarters, each with its own handicraft direction, and the quarters themselves are connected only by doors, while all the main buildings are bound by slabs, recreating a picture of unity and integrity.
If you're interested in leather goods, you'll find all the best leather craftsmen in the Tenneurs quarter. In the Henne quarter, you will find incomparable quality pottery products. Luxury jewelry and the finest jewelry can be found in the Bab Samarin district, while traditional henna paintings on the body of a copper can be found in the Bu Ananya district.
Tanneries are some of the most popular attractions of Morocco in general, and Fes itself. Unfortunately, finding them alone will be very difficult, as you will have to deal with a million different streets, turns, entrances, and exits. There are no signs or even a clear map. So you'll have to either wander well or ask for help from the local (not for free, of course).
There are three active dyers in Fes at the moment: the most famous and the largest are the Shuar dyers, the Sidi Mussa dyers (the oldest), and the Ain Azliten dyers (the newest).
The first thing you have to prepare for before visiting this place is the smell, as the treatment and dyeing of leather here are done using medieval techniques. The second is the local scammers who will want to make money for what seems to be a "free entrance". But is it worth visiting these kinds of places then? Yes, it is.
Here you'll have the opportunity to look at medieval techniques of dressing and go back in the past for a few minutes. The dyes on top look like an unobtrusive artist's palette with colored vats, where the skin is dyed yellow, red, green, blue, orange, or brown, all using only natural dyes. And the finished hides are hung around the perimeter to dry in the sun. The view is unforgettable and evokes uncertain feelings, but to travel to Fes and not to see its famous tanneries is equal to not even travel to Morocco.
Fes is ideal for those who love to travel to Fes in autumn and spring. This is a golden time for both Morocco and Fes.
At the beginning of autumn, the weather will be close to summer with a mark of +25 degrees, not higher. Already closer to the mid-autumn, the temperature drops to +17, the heat of the sun calms down, the wind stops being so stuffy, and it is the perfect time to get acquainted with the city of miracles.
In spring, a trip to Fes becomes even more pleasant. The thermometer shows between +15 and +25 degrees, trees begin to bloom around, and the city turns into an orange garden with bright orange fruits. At night, the temperature does not drop below +10, making the evening hours even more pleasant for walking.
Winter is also a good time to travel to Fes. It's quite warm during the day, and it's enough to wear a light jacket over your summer outfit, but it can be quite cold at night, so you'll have to stock up on warm things. There are ski resorts nearby, popular with tourists during the winter months. Also, many tourists do not mind celebrating the New Year holidays in Fes city, so the city is often crowded with visitors during this period.
Fes's markets will meet you with the most colorful and brightest flowers, which can be seen in a few meters. Here you will be called up to buy a particular product quite persistently. It is in the markets of Fes that all the peculiarities of Arab culture are manifested.
You can find a wide variety of difficult products in any other country such as leather goods, ceramic tableware, cosmetics and jewelry, spices and sweets, traditional Moroccan clothes, carpets, slippers, and many other things.
You can not only wander, spend a few hours, look through local products, but also buy a couple of good souvenirs for friends and family. And if you know how to bargain, the incredible prices melt before your eyes, becoming quite acceptable.
You won't have to spend too much on Fes. Prices vary here, but if you do, it's a minimum. Public transport is very inexpensive, and food also has a reasonable price tag. However, it is better not to buy imported products and food here, as their prices are unreasonably high. If you want to save money, get used to the local cuisine.
The cuisine of Fes, like that of Morocco as a whole, is juicy, spicy but not very varied. The menu is limited to just five traditional dishes: mint tea, tajine, couscous, harira, and Moroccan salad.
The real highlight of Moroccan cuisine is their tangerines. They are tasty, juicy, and worth a penny (50 cents per kg). There are so many of them in Fes that it is not difficult to find them in the markets. In addition to fresh tangerines, you can buy here tangerine juice, or try an avocado cocktail, also very common in street stalls or restaurants (just for 1.5 euros).
For four euros you can buy yourself another unusual Moroccan delicacy - pastilla. Once you try it, you are unlikely to remain indifferent, and you can find this dish in any restaurant in the city.
In addition, try a salad of medlar, carrots, beetroot, and eggplant, or spicy macular. There are a variety of restaurants and cafes with a wide range of menus throughout Fes city. Moroccan cuisine is sure to be a sweet aftertaste in your memories.
The hotels in Fes are separate art. It is a bright design with incredible artistic discoveries. Just by entering one of the hotels in the city, you will immediately feel inside an Arabic fairytale; it feels like a sultan is about to come out. Here everyone will find a place to stay to their taste and from the most modern hotels to less.
In addition to hotels and hostels, Fes also offers traditional Moroccan accommodation: riad. If you stay in a place like this, you are bound to immerse yourself in true Arab life with a traditional Moroccan tea party and endless communication.
Fes attracts with its authenticity and uniqueness, which is ensured by its rich past and preserved historical monuments. Knowing where Fes is, knowing how to get there and how much it costs, it is easy to choose between Casablanca and ancient capital of Morocco for lovers of history and pristine nature. Nowhere else will you be able to experience this deep atmosphere as much as in Fes.