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The city of fez

Ancient history and settlement.

Fez is a city in northeastern Morocco often considered as the cultural capital of the country. It is mainly famous for the fortified medina of Fez El Bali, with medieval merinide architecture, lively souks and old-fashioned atmosphere. The medina houses religious schools such as the Bou Inania and Al Attarine Medersas dating back to the 14th century, both decorated with carved cedar panels and delicate mosaics.

Weather: 31 ° C, wind N at 13 km / h, 37% humidity

An authentic mix between the 8th-century Fez el Bali, the 13th-century Fez el Jdid, and the 20th-century Ville Nouvelle (built by the French), the oldest colonial city of Morocco is now becoming more and more famous. Here are some of the reasons why adding Fez to a travel itinerary is a must-do.

Fez was founded under the Idrisid rule during the 8th-9th century. It consisted of two autonomous and competing settlements. The migration of 2000 Arab families in the early 9th century gave the nascent city its Arabic character. After the downfall of the Idrisid dynasty, several empires came and went until the 11th century when the Almoravid Sultan Yusuf ibn Tashfin united the two settlements and rebuilt the city, which became today’s Fes el Bali quarter. Under the Almoravid rule, the city gained a reputation for the religious scholarship and the mercantile activity.

Fez reached its zenith in the Marinid-era, regaining the status as the capital. Numerous madrasasmosqueszawiyas and city gates were constructed which survived up until today. These buildings are considered the hallmarks of Moorish and Moroccan architectural styles. Marinid sultans also founded Fes Jdid quarter, where newer palaces and gardens were established. During this time, the Jewish population of the city grew as well, with the Mellah (Jewish quarter) attracting the Jewish migrants from other North African regions. After the overthrow of the Marinid dynasty, the city largely declined and replaced by Marrakesh for political and cultural influence, but remained as the capital under the Wattasids and modern Morocco until 1912.

Fez Medina

Today, the city largely consists of two old medina quarters, Fes el Bali and Fes Jdid, and modern urban area of Ville Nouvelle constructed during the French colonial era. The medina of Fez is listed as a World Heritage Site and is believed to be one of the world’s largest urban pedestrian zones (car-free areas).[5] It has the University of Al Quaraouiyine which was founded in 859 and the oldest continuously functioning university in the world. It also has Chouara Tannery from the 11th century, one of the oldest tanneries in the world. The city has been called the « Mecca of the West » and the « Athens of Africa, » a nickname it shares with Cyrene in Libya.