Historic SitesMoroccan Tourism

Fez: The Best Places To See The Moroccan History & Culture

Visit Fez the capital of Moroccan spirituality and culture

#About Fez
#Al Quaraouiyine University
#Bou Inania school and the Attarine medersa
#Medersa Attarine
#Medersa Bou Inania
#Chouara Tanneries
#Bab Boujloud
#Batha Museum
#Fondouk Nejjarine
#Ibn Danan Synagogue

Formerly the capital of Morocco, the one that shines today for its medina and its traditional tanneries, still keeps many other secrets. Fez bears witness to a rich historical past of which it has not lost a crumb thanks to renovation projects undertaken by the local authorities.

It is a maze of smells, colors and handicrafts of all kinds. The medina of Fez is the pride of the spiritual and cultural capital of the kingdom. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981, it was the capital founded by the Idrisid dynasty between 789 and 808 AD.

Fez was indeed, until 1912, the capital of the kingdom.

From that time, the two entities of the medina of Fez evolved in symbiosis constituting one of the great Islamic metropolises embodying a wide variety of architectural forms and urban landscapes. (…) This architecture is characterized by construction and decoration techniques developed over a period of more than ten centuries, and where local knowledge and know-how and various external inspirations (Andalusian, Oriental, and African) were mixed. “, underlines Unesco on its site.

 “The medina of Fez is considered one of the largest and best preserved historic cities in the Arab-Muslim world,” adds the UN institution. The imperial heritage of the city of Fez is still palpable today, and its medina is an indelible trace of it.

It is also fortified by a whole series of ramparts, resulting from the various developments that have marked the history of the city.

Restore the city to its full beauty:

But above all, the most tangible historical imprint undoubtedly remains Al Quaraouiyine University. What was initially a mosque became over the centuries the place of a prestigious universal education.

Considered the oldest university in the world still in operation by Unesco, the university is also an architectural gem, with its finely carved cedar sections, carefully worked plasterwork and subtly decorated zelliges.

Driven by a quest for knowledge and knowledge, students flocked from all over the Merinid Empire. They were lodged in the Attarine medersa, which graciously offered them board and lodging, provided they showed perseverance.

The rehabilitation of coranic schools, or medersas, is also in the wake of a tolerant Islam, repeatedly advocated by Morocco and King Mohammed VI. Launched on March 4, 2013 under the aegis of the monarch, the program of restoration and rehabilitation of the historic medersas of the medina of Fez was crowned in May 2017 by a presentation ceremony chaired by the Moroccan sovereign.

Among the famous medersas of Fez, it is worth mentioning the largest, that of Cherratine, which was built by Sultan Moulay Rachid in 1670 on the ruins of the Al Labbadine medersa. Installed on three floors, it has nearly a hundred rooms that can accommodate up to two hundred students from Al Quaraouiyine University.

Other architectural gems to visit absolutely: the Bou Inania school and the Attarine medersa. They are built like a riad, adorned with a central patio, a pond and a fountain, the rooms being around this square to accommodate the students.

The pleasure of the eyes lies in the zelliges, sculpted plaster and other cedar wood worked in an artisanal way.

Both are located in the medina of Fez, where it is good to stroll and get lost in its maze.

The Fassi city is also famous for its leather and its brightly colored tanneries. In the tanners’ souk reside three ancient tanneries, the largest and oldest being the Chouara tannery, which is almost a thousand years old. Its tanners work hard to produce 2,911 to 5,132 processed leather hides.

Nestled in the Blida district, opposite the zaouïa Sidi Hammoumi and Derb El-Mitta, the place attracts almost all tourists to the spiritual capital of Morocco. Because there resides an exceptional historical and cultural part of Morocco and its beauties.

DarDif has summarized all to you dear reader, to ensure that you live the best experience possible on your trip to the imperial city:

 #1- Medersa Attarine

“Medersa” means school in Arabic and you will find many very old Koranic schools in the Medina of Fes. Theology was studied there but also many other scientific disciplines. One of the schools worth visiting is the Medersa Attarine which was built in the 14th century by Sultan Abu Said Uthman.

It is quite small in size and could accommodate only 60 students. But it is known to be the most beautiful school in the city of Fes. It is indeed a real architectural pearl and you will be able to admire in particular superb bas reliefs and beautiful cedar furniture. A true work of art!

#2 – Medersa Bou Inania

The Medresa Bou Inania is also one of the most visited schools in Fes and it has the particularity of having a minaret. The faithful went to the Medresa Bou Inania to pray there on Friday (holy day in Islam).

It is important to note that even though it is a Muslim place of worship, this school is open to non-Muslims and therefore it is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about the local culture.

#3 – Chouara Tanneries

The city of Fes is also known for its traditional crafts and in particular for its leather work. And to realize it, do not hesitate to take a tour of the side of the Chouara tanneries which are located north of the Medina. It is one of the 3 big tanneries of the city and it was set up in the 11th century!

You will find workers there who still use traditional techniques to make their precious leather. The process is simple, the skins of cows or sheep are first cleaned with a lime-based mixture. They are then processed in pigeon excrement to soften the skins. Once treated, the men knead the skins with their feet for hours under the blazing sun.

Penultimate step, the skins are soaked in stone vases containing natural dyes based on indigo or saffron for example. The last step is then to dry the leather. It will then be used to make bags, belts or slippers.

As you will have understood, you will be treated to a truly incredible spectacle and this whole palette of colors makes the Chouara tannery extremely photogenic. It is really the experience not to be missed if you travel to Fes.

#4 – Bab Boujloud

“Bab” means “door” in Arabic and Bab Boujloud is one of the gateways to the old town of Fes. It was built in the 12th century and it is surely one of the most beautiful buildings in the Medina. You will notice the beautiful blue ceramics that cover the upper part of the door.

#5 – Batha Museum

Even if the Medina is itself a real open-air museum, it is still interesting to visit the Batha museum to learn more about the local culture. You will find there in particular a beautiful garden at the entrance but also embroidery, pottery, carpets and many other artisanal products from Fes.

#6 – Fondouk Nejjarine

A “Foundouk” is in fact a caravanserai, that is to say a place where caravans can stop by depositing their goods and their camels. And the Foundouk Nejjarine (carpenters in Arabic) is now a museum that exhibits the works of wood craftsmen from the city of Fes.

Note that the Foundouk was built in the 18th century and is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

#7 – Ibn Danan Synagogue

Slightly outside the Medina you will find the beautiful Ibn Danan Synagogue built in the 18th century by the Danan family. It may come as a surprise, but there has been a Jewish community in the Maghreb for a very long time now and it has never been a problem.

There are therefore superb synagogues in Muslim countries such as Morocco or Tunisia with the beautiful Ghriba synagogue in Djerba.

To conclude:

When the most imperial of Moroccan cities welcomes its guests, it intends to share with them the most precious way of life. Open-air museum, Fez rivals Venice, Florence, Athens as a living universal heritage.

The refinement of its palaces, the richness of its museums, the grandeur of its medersas which housed the greatest scholars of the Golden Age, the profusion of its mosques as so many homages to the greatness of God are, if you love culture and arts, you will find in fez an invitation to discovery constantly renewed.

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