Things to do - general

The city of Fez was known as the Mecca of the West and the Athens of Africa. The city was once two towns that merged together to become a shining citadel of the Muslim world. It is the oldest and most intact city of the Muslim world that still demonstrates the golden age of Islam. Visiting Fez is like visiting the Muslim world, rustling and bustling with stall vendors, tanners kneading skins with their feet and an ancient respect for religious institutions. Fez is madly in love with Arabic and African cuisine. Restaurants line the streets of the Fez J’did who sell exotic tastes and delights refined over centuries. The river Jawhar flows through the city. Fez is the prime destination for tourists who want to experience the beauty of Morocco. The sapphire blue, the shocking pinks, the gilded oranges of Fez dazzle the traveller who tries to, at first make sense of it all but then begins to appreciate Fez’s ancient fuzzy logic.

Visa Requirements

Morocco tourist visa is not required for citizens of United Kingdom for a stay up to 90 days.

Languages SpokenBerber, Arabic and French
Currency UsedMoroccan Dinar and Euro
Area (km2)320

Sports & Adventure

Learning centers of old
The city of Fez has about nine famous madrassas that still teach students in not only Quranic knowledge, but also in sciences, arts and socio-economics. The University of Kurray’ain is the State university of Morroco and the oldest university in the world. The architecture is staunchly Andalusian. Bou Inania Madrasa and the Al-Attarine Madrasa are also fine examples of Muslim architecture.  Next to the Bou inania Madrassa is the Dar-al-Magana, which is a hydraulic clock house made in 1357by Muslim engineers and still works today.

Tanneries of Fez
Before midday, visit the tanneries of Fez were armies of young men paddle in the mud tubs of organic dyes and agents to soften and smoothen the skins of animals to make handcrafted leather. This process is unchanged since the medieval ages. Be sure to reach before midday because as the sun strikes head on the tanneries, the smell scatters rapidly. Do keep a bag of porous cloth filled with mint or coriander to shield your nose in case you are extremely squeamish. Visiting them however, is a must and a once is a lifetime experience.

Fez al-Bali
This is the part of Fez, that is the largest car-free urban area of the world. Small souks and shops in narrowing streets of the area sell African spices, Berber medical herbs and shockingly colourful shoes. We advise you to always bargain for every item you purchase. The best quality of Moroccan handicrafts is sold at the Fez el-Bali.

Culture and History

The name ‘Fez’ means a pickaxe. Legend says that a gold and silver pickaxe was thrown from heavens to the first ruler of Fez, Idris I to mark the outline of the first township in 789 AD. Idris, I was the great-grandson of Ali bin Abi Talib (RA) and Fatima, daughter of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Idris fled Damascus in 786 AD, from the rival Abasiyyid Empire, ambitious to settle and construct a new Muslim empire in Morocco. His seat of authority was in Fez. While he laid the foundations of Fez Al-Aliya, his son laid foundations of the township north of the Jawhar River called Fez Al-Bala. Both of the townships were independent of each other and walls were built to separate the two. Arab immigration to Fez began early on, as rival Arab families to the Moors in Andalusia and Fatimids in Tunisia were banished and resettled here.  The Idrisid Fez, is not well known about its history, as most of its establishments perished in the invasions from the east, by Tunisian Fatimid Caliphate and from the north by the Emirate of Cordoba, each tried to install, an emissary on the township to work on their behalf. The successor of Idris II built the Al – Kurray’ain Mosque and Madrasa in Fez which still stands today. It is regarded as the oldest continuously serving university in the world, and it’s now called the University (Jamiyah)of Al- Kurray’ain. The Andalusian Emir finally won Fez and beautified the Kurray’ain Mosque and adjacent madrassa in typical Andalusian architecture as seen today. In the year 1077, the Almoravid ruler Youssef bin Tashfin conquered Fez, and thus began the golden age that lasted for almost 400 years.
Under the Almoravids, the walls between the two townships were destroyed, and the city was made whole. Fez acquired the important status of being a hub of trade and learning. The Almoravid ruler Youssef bin Tashfin is considered the second founder of the city of Fez.
Like many Moroccan cities at the time, Fez also grew substantially in the era of the Almohads. The city was widened and new walls were built to protect the city from invasion. The city grew so rapidly and successfully that Fez was the most populated city between 1170 and 1180 in the entire world, home to more than 200,000 people from a myriad of ethnic backgrounds.
The Marinid Dynasty made Fez its capital again in 1250. Most of the intellectual history of Fez stems out of the drive of the Marinids to make Fez a city of scholars, scientists and philosophers.
In 1558, the Ottoman Empire with the support of the local Wattasids tried to overthrow the Saadian Sultans of Morocco, but their efforts were in vain. This Morocco is the only Arab country that was not ruled over by the Ottoman Empire. In 1790 the city became independent but only briefly. Riots broke out in 1912 as a reaction to the Treaty of Fez.

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