Fez the cultural capital of Morocco


For a long time, we have dreamed of visiting Fez the cultural capital of Morocco, a city steeped in history. We join the small studio that we rented for a week, located a few steps from the medina. What a surprise when I got there! Our host welcomes us in a sumptuous palace, with walls decorated with many mosaics and other arabesques. The place deserves a renovation but, after all, the marks of time make also its charm. We even realize that this palace, called El Mokri, is on the list of monuments to visit on TripAdvisor!

We cheerfully set off to explore the medina … which quickly puts our sense of direction to the test. The labyrinth seems specially designed to draw the visitor into its dead ends and even the GPS of our phones throw in the towel, unable to navigate. But the distress of some makes the happiness of others. The touts wait in strategic places and insist on showing us the right path!

That day, we are a little disappointed by the medina of Fez and the quiet atmosphere of southern Morocco seems far away. The crowd jostles us, ten-year-old kids offer kif (cannabis), heavily loaded donkeys are beaten to advance … We guess that the city does have charms, but still tired from our night bus ride, we had to discover them. We comeback as best we can, losing each other eight or ten times.

The next day, well rested and determined to give the medina a second chance, we jump out from our beds at the first rays of sun. At 7:30 am, the alleys are almost deserted and the touts are still snoozing. Until 10 a.m., the old town of Fez thus idles. With the shops closed, we notice the architectural details and traces of the past much better: here a finely chiseled door, there a mosaic fountain …

Moroccans are also warmer than the day before, like this woman who lends us cushions while we are seating in front of the gate of her store; or that audio cassette seller,who insists on sharing his glass of mint tea. Regularly, we come across portraits of the king, well framed and highlighted,in the shops and in the alleys of the medina. As soon as a Moroccan sees us take a look at it, he hastens to tell us, “Did you see? This is Mohammed VI, our king. A good king! “.

Why Fez is the cultural Capital of Morocco?

Fez is one of the great legendary cities of the Arab world just like Istanbul, Baghdad or Jerusalem. That’s why Fez is the cultural capital of Morocco. This tangle of alleys was as renowned for its craftsmanship as for its intellectual and spiritual level.

The city is home to many Koranic schools called Medersas, some of which are architectural masterpieces. And then, a mosque of twenty thousand places managed to make a place in the heart of the medina. This is the venerable Al Karaouiyne Mosque, which houses both the oldest university and the oldest library in the world. It is in the middle of the medina that we walked past it several times without noticing it! Entry is prohibited to non-Muslims, but here is a tip to observe it from above and judge its size: near one of the main doors, a shop of handmade blankets opens access to its terrace in exchange for ten dirhams per person. Ask local traders to tell you.

Near our palace , We visited another which belonged to the Pasha of Marrakech and which bears his name: El Glaoui. It is possible to ask to visit it by addressing the caretaker Abdou, grandson of the pasha’s former steward, or his wife, in exchange for a free donation. And it’s worth it! Imagine a palace of more than a thousand rooms, decorated by the best craftsmen with the best materials… How many nuggets like this are still hidden in Fez? The more we discover the city, the more we have the feeling that we only catch a glimpse of a tiny part of its incredible heritage.

Three hundred meters from the beautiful Bab Boujloud gate, is the Jnan Sbil garden. It is good to rest in this green oasis after a tiring visit to the old town. After a few days, we start to pick up our habits. We are very proud to find our way around without getting lost! As the restaurants are quite expensive for the country, we cook our meals and favor local products: vegetables, semolina, Ras El-Hanout (a mixture of spices for the tagine), mint, citrus fruits … While the craft sellers speak perfect French, it is not always easy to converse with grocers, our accents are different!

As a farewell to Fez the cultural capital of Morocco, we go up to El Qolla hill which houses the ruins of the Marinid tombs. Many Moroccans come to sit at dusk, to enjoy the superb panorama and forget the chaos of Fez. The silence does not break until the last rays of the sun, when the call to prayer goes forth and echoes throughout the valley.

Click here, To book your day trip to Fez to discover this beautiful Moroccan Pearl.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *