Fez 9000 streets in Morocco!
Learning the numbers in Arabic cost me nothing. Wahid, ithnan, thalatha, arba, khomsan, sita, saba, tamanya, chalk and asher. Sometimes basic things cost me, but I have a good head to reason and memorize certain elements. And the numbers in Arabic entered me alone. It would cost me a lot, but it could count to 9000. Yes, 9000, the same number as the total number of streets believed to be in the medina of Fez, the largest in the world . Do we count them together?
The last time we spoke, I had just discovered one of the places that most amazed me in Morocco, the coastal city of Essaouira. Right there I ended my journey along the Moroccan coast to embark on the longest journey I made within the country: going from there to Fez .
How to go to Fez
I thought not, but Morocco is a fairly large country. Although it has a more than acceptable transportation system, any journey that involves going through land from the north to the south of the country will take your time. Luckily, Fez is one of the most important and tourist cities in Morocco, so it is very well connected. There you can get there by plane, train, bus or, of course, rental car.
In my case, I spent more than 12 hours in dance to get from Essaouira to Fez . In Essaouira I took a bus from the Supratour company (the other company more oriented to tourists) …
… To Marrakech, where I caught a train to Fez. As they had sold me , the Moroccan trains are wonderful . Punctual, spacious and very comfortable. In my case I made the trip in first class (there is not much difference in price) because on such a long trip I did not want to play it. But the second class is more than acceptable.
So, despite the long journey, it was not uncomfortable for me and I took advantage of it to write and cultivate a little . At midnight I arrived in Fez, so I decided to go directly to my accommodation.
Where to sleep in Fez
Fez is one of the most important cities in Morocco (the third in population), and is considered the cultural and religious capital of the country . For this reason, it is not difficult to find good accommodations. Some suggestions:
- As always, I recommend AirBnb for its wide offer and good prices. Here I leave a discount in case you register on the platform.
- If you are looking for cheap accommodation, the Medina Social Club offers a bed from 11 euros a night, although it also has double rooms for around 40.
- An interesting option for couples is the Riad Diwan. 20 euros costs the night in this nice riad.
- If you prefer something more level, take a look at the riad Fes Aicha, although the price of the double is around 100 euros.
After my very long walk that day, I fell once more in bed, trying to regain energy for my next day .
Fez, the religious and cultural capital of Morocco
As I have already said, although Rabat is the official capital, Fez is the cultural and religious reference of Morocco . On the one hand, it concentrates some of the most important universities and study centers in the country, making it a frequent destination for students. On the other, the city in general and the medina in particular is an endless succession of mosques, so the Islamic religion has a stronghold in this city.
The first steps of Fez date back to the 9th century and throughout its intense history it has been on more than one occasion the capital of the country . In fact, it was not until the 20th century that Rabat became the definitive capital.
With all this, it is clear that Fez is one of the most important cities in Morocco and that prestige is palpable at the same time you step on the street. And as the video I prepared about the city for Centraldereservas shows.
What to see in Fez
Fez is a large town (with more than a million inhabitants), which could easily be devoted to two or three days of travel and would continue to offer you content . However, at this point in the trip, my schedule was already tight, so I could hardly dedicate a whole day to it. Now, I took advantage until the last minute.
By organizing the tourist route a little, we could divide the city into three parts: the new city, Fez el Bali and Fez el Yedid . But let’s go slowly.
The Ville Nouvelle of Fez
I start this route at the end, so it would correspond to the modern city of Fez. This was built during the protectorate of the French in the 20th century . Although this corner has its interesting avenues, its parks, its mosques, its shops… touristically it does not offer anything that you cannot find in any standard city in the world, so my walk there was rather short-lived.
Fez the Jedid
600 years before the modern city, the meriníes (an empire of Berber origin) built a new neighborhood in Fez that would soon become the seat of royal power.
THE ROYAL PALACE OF FEZ
And for this reason, this was the place chosen to build the royal palace of Fez …
… One of the most emblematic buildings in the city. As I have already commented in other posts in Morocco, many towns in the country have their own royal palace , so the Moroccan king has a luxurious residence wherever he goes.
This palace cannot be visited inside either, although it is worth approaching the entrance. Up to seven golden doors (one for each day of the week) with infinite details give way to this monarchical residence. If this is the entrance … what it will be like inside.
THE MELLAH OR JEWISH QUARTER
Inside the Jedid is the Jewish quarter of Fez (or Mellah), one of the places that most impressed me on this earth.
An unraveled set of all kinds of things …
… come together in this place to shape one of the most alive corners of Fez .
The Jewish quarter contains several synagogues that can be visited , but in my case I preferred to play photographers on the streets.
Although I did not feel insecure walking around here, it is true that it is one of the points in Morocco where I perceived a more charged environment , so I would tell you to avoid wandering in that area at certain times. Despite this, this scruffy neighborhood was strangely attractive to me.
THE JNAN SBIL GARDEN
Curiously, very close to that chaotic neighborhood is the beautiful Jnan Sbil garden .
A little oasis …
… where to catch air before entering the intense medina of Fez. Do not stay without visiting it.
The Medina of Fez – El Bali
And we continue going back years in history until reaching the 9th century, at which time the first stones of this city began to be laid until ending up shaping a medina with more than 9000 interlocking streets.
And this is, ahead of any other place, the main reason why you should visit Fez : stroll through the largest medina in the world.
9000. It is said soon. But 9000 streets are many streets .
It is not surprising that, no matter how much map or GPS you have with you, you end up getting lost.
And it probably won’t happen to you just once. You will surely miss a few . Even voluntarily.
Be that as it may, try to organize your walk through Fez to at least visit some of the essentials of its medina .
If you have already read something more about Morocco, surely you know that Bab is a door in Arabic, and these are usually reference monuments in the different medinas of the country. In the case of Fez, Bab Boujeloud is one of the most emblematic. Sooner or later you will have to cross it.
At another end of the medina another imposing door rises, next to one of the few mosques that can be seen from a distance in this Arab labyrinth.
Each and every one of your steps through the tangled medina of Fez should lead you, at a certain moment, to some of its tanneries. To put a little information on the table , tanneries are the places where the leather is prepared with which artisans give life to garments or other products.
Hard work like few others, in which several men fight from dawn to dusk against the leather to achieve the expected result. The first step is to put the pieces in vats full of lime, cow’s urine and pigeon droppings and let it rest for several days.
The pieces are then colored by bathing them in buckets filled with natural dyes .
An exhausting job for those who do it, but very attractive to the eye and the camera. A perfect mix of contrasts, colors, textures and materials that you can see from the stores that surround these tanneries . The most famous is that of Chouwara , but there are many.
If you get it right you will not have to pay or buy anything to attend this fragrant show.
What I liked the least is discovering that a river on the outskirts is the destination of many of the waste generated here .
OF MADRASAS AND MOSQUES
As I was saying, one of the reasons why Fez is locally and internationally known is for the large number of universities and mosques it houses , especially within the walls of the medina.
Perhaps you already know that if you are not a Muslim you are prohibited from accessing mosques, so settle for its facade or what you see from the door.
The Karaouine Mosque is one of the most famous, but you will find them of all shapes and sizes throughout the (narrow) medina.
With regard to the universities, there are several that can be visited, but I must admit that in this network it was very difficult for me to distinguish between universities and mosques, so I did not enter any. The most famous are Medersa Attarine, Bou Inania and Cherratine . Maybe you are luckier than me looking for them.
As I say, the medina is an endless set of narrownesses, so finding a place is almost a cause for celebration. Even more so if you come to one with the personality of Seffarine , where the intense sound of beaten metals sets the soundtrack. And it is that in this square many boilermakers work building and repairing all kinds of containers.
MARKETS, MARKETS AND MORE MARKETS …
I cannot say goodbye to the medina of Fez without talking about its markets …
… and it is that, as tradition dictates in Arab culture, almost every street is an endless gorge of shops and stalls with almost everything .
As in so many Moroccan cities, anything can be found in Fez if you spend the right time.
In each area you will find a certain type of products, having souvenir spaces …
… fabrics …
… and what arises.
The viewpoint of the Meriní tombs
I must admit that I had to take some distance from the medina of Fez to realize the madness before me . And for this reason I recommend that everyone go up to the viewpoint of the Meriní tombs.
About a 20-minute walk from the medina is a necropolis built in the 14th century to house the remains of members of a Berber empire that inhabited these lands. But with permission from your story, my reason for going up here was to see Fez from above.
Taking advantage of the last hours of the day …
… and the first of the night, here I shared a pleasant moment with some friendly locals.
With themselves, whom I met through Couchsurfing, I enjoyed a pleasant 100% street dinner and an evening mini-walk through the inexhaustible medina.
Of course, although the medina was inexhaustible, I was very tired, so before midnight I retired to face a new day with energy. Fez left me exhausted and very happy, but the route through Morocco must continue. Marrakech was waiting for me , but I will talk about it in the next post.