What to see in Fes, itinerary including the main monuments and places of interest, including Medina, Mosques, Royal Palace and Ville Nouvelle.
Medieval city considered the cultural and artisan center of the country, Fes is located at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, located on the crossroads of ancient caravan routes.
Very well preserved, it belongs to the four imperial cities of Morocco, together with Marrakech, Rabat and Meknes.
Founded in 700 by Idris, progenitor of the Idrisidi dynasty, it became capital and later a holy city.
The old city is one of the most interesting historical centers of the Islamic world for its buildings, some of which are used as mosques.
The Medina, or the old town, is a labyrinth made up of over 9,000 narrow and winding streets full of people, where it is easy to get lost even while walking quietly, observing the numerous street markets where you can buy dried fruit, leather products, copper, ceramic , fabrics and rugs of all kinds, all strictly handmade by local artisans who work hard from morning to night.
The medina, which also forms the intellectual heart of the city, is home to the oldest university in the world.
Worth seeing are the mosques and the four access doors to the medina, including Bab Bou Jeloud, the western door characterized by blue and green tiled facades.
Some of these architectural jewels have recently been restored.
Fès El Jdid, south of the Medina, is a thirteenth-century city, built by the Merenid rulers to have more space to dedicate to the construction of their palaces.
Here is the Jewish quarter Mellah, which stands out for its ornate balconies and hand-forged iron windows.Recommended readings
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- Fes (Morocco): what to see in the imperial city
- Marrakech (Morocco): what to see in the imperial city
- Casablanca: what to see from the old medina to the waterfront
La Ville Nouvelle is the modern center of the city, with French-style boulevards, hotels, restaurants, cafes and bookstores.
Walking along Avenue Hassan you can see lush coconut palms, red flowers, wonderful fountains and modern shops.
In the surroundings, it is possible to go trekking and mountain biking during the summer, while in the winter ski lovers can go to the slopes located near Ifrane, a typical Berber city.
Fondouk el Nejjarine fes is an exquisitely restored former caravanserai, which represents a meeting place in Fes.
In the past it had the function of providing food and shelter to traders, while today it has become a museum dedicated to the arts and crafts of the wood.
Inside, you can admire up close, finely carved wooden sculptures and the meticulously carved arches of the internal courtyard.
Outside is the Nejjarine fountain, better known as the mosaic fountain of the medina and, in the alleys leading to the square, the Nejjarine Souk, where carpenters still work with the chisel to carve the cedar wood.
Madrasa Bou Inania, recently restored, is one of the few Islamic religious buildings open to non-Muslims, which served as an educational school and a congregational mosque.
Built between 1350-1356 by the sultan Bou Inan, of the Merinid dynasty, it is considered the most beautiful and the most richly decorated Madrasa built by the Merinids, with characteristic carved interiors in cedar wood and a splendid marble entrance courtyard.
It is the only Madrasa in Morocco with a pulpit and minaret, strictly closed to the public during prayer hours.
Tanneries represent one of the most rooted traditions in Fes since ancient times, from Terrasse de Tannerie, and other surrounding terraces, it is possible to observe the workings of leather and hides.
The Dar Batha Museum contains a large collection of Moroccan handicrafts, including embroidery, leather goods, rugs and jewelery, wood carvings and colorful pottery.
The visit of this ancient Moorish-style palace is strictly guided and also includes the fabulous Andalusian garden.
As for the Kairaouine Mosque, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter this huge building dedicated to Islamic worship and located in the heart of Fes, but often the entrance door remains open and it is therefore possible to take a peek inside.
Founded in 857, it is one of the oldest in the western Muslim world.
Due to the proximity of the surrounding houses and shops, the best place to appreciate the mosque's staircase is from the roof of the Medrasa el Attarine, occasionally open to the public.
Madrasa el Attarine, founded in 1325 in the heart of the medina, stands out for its beautiful decorations and, after Bou Inania, represents the most impressive Islamic college of the Middle Ages.
Hammam is a bathhouse where you can relax after a bath undergoing a massage treatment.
The Royal Palace, which covers over 80 hectares of land, is located in the midst of beautiful gardens, mosques and an ancient madrasa.
Built in the seventeenth century by the Merenid rulers, it is located in the center of Fès el Jdid.
The building, whose interior is not open to the public but it is possible to admire its exterior, is used as a temporary residence by the King of Morocco when he is in the area.