Fez is the oldest and also one of the most popular cities of the four Moroccan royal cities and in Fez you can do a lot of fun things! This city is located in the north of Morocco and is a very large city with about two million inhabitants. Fez consists of an old and a new part and these are two totally different worlds that really form one city together. What to do in Fez?
Do you want to know what to do in Fez? My 10 tips for a visit to this beautiful royal city in Morocco!
The old part consists of the Medina with the maze of many small streets where not even cars drive and you only move on foot or by donkey. The new part was built by the French. This consists of wide and straight avenues full of modern shops and restaurants. Fez is developing enormously and recently the airport has been expanded. It is hoped that Fez will be visited in the near future by more tourists like the royal city of Marrakech. But what to do in Fez?
1. Walk through the Medina (Fes El-Bali)
The old walled city of Fez is a functioning medieval town and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The medina was founded in the year 800. Here you certainly take a big step back in time. No car can drive here and the only way to get around is on foot or with a donkey.
Did you know that this medina is officially the largest car-free zone in the world?
This ancient city consists of a maze of about 9400 streets and it is impossible not to get lost. The medina overwhelms you and that is the charm of this old medina! The streets are narrow and covered. Everywhere you see shops selling various pottery products, clothing, shoes, herbs, leather, argan oil, etc.
It is advisable to walk a few hours under the guidance of a guide through the Medina. The way to see the most beautiful and special places and to hear the stories. You can arrange a guide through your hotel or online in advance. The costs are around 25 euros on average for a walk of a few hours. The Medina must be on your what to do in Fez list!
2. Visit the tannerie
The famous Chouara tannerie is the largest and oldest tannery in the world and you have to put this on your what to do in Fez list! The animal skins are dried in a traditional way, cleaned, processed and dyed and you can follow this whole process. Keep in mind that it smells a lot. Fortunately there are “guides” present to give you a sprig of mint against the stench.
From a number of roof terraces (from shops where they sell all kinds of leather products) you have a great view of the colored paint baths. You can also see the skins hanging on the walls everywhere to dry them in the sun. After a visit you certainly get respect for the people who do seriously hard and dirty work, but they are apparently well paid.
Bizarre to realize how much work it is to make a leather bag.
The Chouara tannerie is free to visit, but keep in mind that the vendors do a lot of effort to let you buy something from one of the many shops. The Chouara Tannerie is located in the northeast of the medina.
3. Watch the sunset from the Merenid Tombes
Just outside the medina in the north of the city are the Merenid Tombes. These are currently ruins that actually are quote a mystery. But this is the place where you have a nice overview of the medina. You can see the sunset beautifully. The medina looks just as beautiful from above as when you walk through it and so you see how great the medina is.
4. View the Jewish quarter: Mellah
Next to the royal palace is the Jewish quarter Mellah. You immediately see the difference between the style of the houses in the Jewish quarter and that of a Muslim district. The houses all have windows and balconies on the outside of the houses. A visit to the large cemetery and the small Jewish museum is a must. If you want to know more about the history of the Jewish Quarter, it is interesting to visit the neighborhood with the help of a guide. As is often the case in Morocco, someone automatically comes to you, who offers himself as a guide. And wants to walk through the neighborhood for a small fee.
5. Bab Bou Jeloud (The Blue Gate)
The landmark and also for many people the starting point of wandering in the Medina is the Bab Bou Jeloud. This is the big blue gate at the beginning of the medina. This gate is actually not very old, because it was built at the beginning of the 20th century. The gate is blue on one side, since blue is the color of Fez. The gate is green on the other side, which is the color of Islam.
6. The Quran school: Medersa Bou Inania
This is one of the few religious buildings in the medina that you can visit as a non-Muslim. It is a beautiful building from 1350, because it formerly served as a Quran school. Nowadays it is no longer used as such. This whole building has been completely restored. The many details in the wood carvings and tiles are special to see. Entrance fee is 10 dirhams, about 1 euro.
7. Find the peace in the park Jardin Jnan Sbil
Just outside the medina on the Bab Bou Jeloud side (The Blue Gate) is the impressive garden Jardin Jnan Sbil. This garden is an oasis of peace and like all Islamic gardens. This garden is also meant to be in paradise between the ponds, plants and the serenity. The garden can be visited free of charge.
8. Relax on one of the many roof terraces
You will be amazed when you walk around the medina that there are many restaurants and hotels with great roof terraces from where you have a great view of the city. Have a rest here, drink a mint tea or a fresh orange juice, order a Tajine or couscous or watch the sunset.
9. View the royal palace: Dar el-Makhzen
Dar el-Makhzen is the royal palace used by the king of Morocco when he visits Fez. You can not visit this palace, but only view it from the outside. It is the imposing Moorish gate with the seven golden doors with bronze knockers that impresses you the most.
10. Visit the Foundouk El-Nejjarine museum
In the middle of the medina lies the Foundouk El-Nejjarine museum and it’s nice to have a short visit here. The museum is located in a former caravanserai. A place where business travelers were accommodated in the 18th century. This “Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts” is not really that interesting in terms of collection, but the building itself is beautiful because of the many refined carvings and architecture. Also the view from the roof terrace where a small cafe is located is very worthwhile.
How do you get to Fez?
Fez has its own airport which is just outside the city and several airline companies fly more and more directly to Fez. For example, Ryanair flies to Fez from Eindhoven for low prices. From the airport you are in the city in about half an hour and the taxi costs 12 euros on average. Many people combine Fez with the other royal city of Marrakech and fly there to then travel by train to Fez. This train journey takes about seven hours.
These are my tips for what to do in Fez! What do you want to do in Fez?
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