Fez

The Holy City of Fez is a jewel of Spanish-Arabic civilization. Fez does not reveal its secrets easily. Secretive, shadowy, they need to be discovered little by little, with reverence. Only in this way can the splendors of Medersa architecture be fully appreciated. Only in this way will the call of the medina tempt you. Bustling with artisans and merchants, its captivating sounds, fragrances and colors mesmerize the visitor with a constant swirl of activity. The city of Moulay Idriss 1st, sanctuary of human and moral sciences.

Located between the fertile lands of the Sais and the forest of the middle Atlas, Fez is the oldest of Morocco’s imperial cities. It is the embodiment of the country’s history and its spiritual and religious capital, and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Fez is the most complete Islamic medieval city in the world. Its history had for a thousand years also been the history of Morocco’s political, commercial and intellectual life, even though it is now superseded by the modern cities of Rabat and Casablanca, and to some extent by its own new town, built the French after 1912.

Fez was founded in the 9th century as the capital of the idrissid state, the first Muslim kingdom of Morocco. A century later the idrissid dynasty had declined, but the city they had established survived. Fez grew in wealth and remained the acknowledged religious and cultural centre of Morocco. Despite the establishment of new administrative capitals at Marrakech and then Rabat, its golden period of wealth, fame and prosperity was in the 13th and 14th centuries under the merenids sultans. Much had perished in the long decline from the period, and it is chiefly the old mosques, tombs and religious colleges that have survived, respected by each dynasty, every mutinous regiment and pillaging tribe. The Medersa are open to non-Muslims, but the rest of the vast heritage of religious architecture remains inaccessible. Visitors are left to concentrate on the street pattern, the style of life, the sounds and odours, which remain triumphantly unchanged.

Fez is layered with history and culture, a world of its own where reality mingles inextricably with legend. In this, the most beautiful of Morocco’s cities, the medieval walls reveal its everlasting traditions. In the centuries since its founding, Moulay Idris’s supplication has become manifest in myriad ways, this is apparent when reflecting on one of the most magnificent pages of Moroccan history: the founding of the Qarawiyine mosque and university. Greatly renowned for its embrace of worship and the quest for knowledge, the Qarawiyine made Fez the cradle of Islamic cultural traditions in Morocco.

It is considered to be the pearl of the Arab World, sensational in every sense of the world. Like Athens or Florence, it is pinnacles of a civilisation, replete with the undoing riches of profuse and varied life, the sensuality of sunlight, colours and flavours, a place that truly offers something for everyone. Fascinating Fez, presenting a striking insight to North African city life, is packed with delights from its cultural snapshots to its religious and architectural trophies of mosques and medinas. A well preserved and ancient World Heritage Site as well as a vibrant modern Moroccan city, the treasure trove of Fez is overflowing with enigmatic tourist attraction trinkets.

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