This post is just a quick overview of what not to miss during your stay in the beautiful city of Fes. I have organized it to several categories, and even if you are on a busy schedule, make sure to tackle each one of the groups to get the taste of the city!
Fes is famous for its religious schools (or medresas/medersas), some of them dating back to the 14th century! They used to cater to male students and provided education in islamic sciences and Quran, some of them being active up to the 20th century as dormitories for the students of Qaraouine university. Today a number of these architectural jems are either shortly after their renovation or in the process of it. You should definitely not miss them! I would suggest the small, but beautiful Attarine medresa just off the Qaraouine mosque, the Cherratine medresa, and of course our dear neighbor – medresa Bou Inania.
You will not be able to enter this mosque unless you are Muslim, nevertheless it is worth spending some time peaking through its doors inside. You are looking at the OLDEST educational institution in the world! It was established in the 9th century (in the year 859) by a woman – noble Fatima al-Fihrí who felt it the best to invest her dowry into establishment of such an institution for the city of Fez. What we have in the medina today is only the mosque itself as the university has long moved away to modern buildings outside the medina walls. This place remains, however, the most sacred point of the medina.
Let us see how many you are able to find during your visit of the Medina: five? ten? Do not miss the most beautiful one at the Nejjarine square!
Our Medina is full of beautiful palaces, some of them, unfortunately not being in the best shape at the moment. You should still head for the Moqri palace and the Mnebhi palace for some good pictures.
This is one of the highlights of the Medina – old techiques and proccesses still used today for tanning the animal skins. The biggest tannery is called Chouara, and you need to head towards the northeastern part of the Medina, but there are other, smaller tanneries as well. My favorite one is the tannery in Chorba district where you get to meet the tanneurs personally.
Fes Medina has fourteen gates, with the fifteenth being our internal gate – Bab Boujaloud. It would take you the whole day to walk all around the Fez city walls as they have several miles in length, but do pay attention to the beautiful Bab Semmarine or the massive Bab Ftouh, just to name a few.
Fes has amazing Jewish heritage with a number of sites to explore, within walking distance from our Riad! Explore the Jewish cemetary, marvel at the beautiful architecture of the houses previously owned by Jewish merchants, and visit the two newly-renovated Fes synagogues.
PARKS AND GARDENS
Jnane Sbile is probably the best place to enjoy some serenity under the shadow of willows. It has been carefully landscaped to please the eye and bring rest to weary legs of the Medina visitors.
Souq is an Arabic term for market, and whether you are looking for rugs, leather goods, jewelry or ceramics, the local market is ready to cater to you! Look for some traditional footwear (babouch) and beautiful caftans at the Kaisareia market, and head to the Henna souq for products such as argan oil, henna and ghassoul.