Explore a different destination UNESCO World Heritage Site Fez, Morocco

About Fez

Fez, or more correctly Fes, is the third largest city in Morocco. It is a famous tourist destination due to its old walled city.

Fes, along with Marrakesh, Meknes and Rabat, is one of the four "imperial cities" of Morocco. It comprises three parts, Fes el Bali, the old, walled city, Fes-Jdid new Fes, home of the Mellah, and the Ville Nouvelle the French-created, newest section of Fes. The Medina of Fes el Bali, the larger of the two medinas of Fes, is believed to be the largest contiguous car-free urban area in the world. Fes el Bali is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The University of Al-Karaouine was founded in 859 A.D. and is the oldest continuous operating university in the world.

The city of Fes was founded by Idris I on opposite banks of the Fez River in 789. After he was assassinated, his son Idris II continued to develop Fes in 810. During Yahya ibn Muhammad's rule The Kairouyine mosque, one of the oldest and largest mosques in Africa, was built during the rule of Yahya ibn Muhammad. The University of Al-Karaouine associated to it was founded in 859. Arabs moved to Fes from Al-Andalus after a rebellion which took place in Córdoba in 818, and from Tunisia after another rebellion that took place in 824. The Arab arrivals gave Fes a definite Arab character. The two main quarters of Fes, namely Adwat Al-Andalus and Adwat al-Qarawiyyin, were named after these two waves of Arab immigrants. After Ali ibn Umar (Ali II) came to power, the tribes of Madyuna, Gayatha and Miknasa, which were Sufrite Kharijites, formed a common front to fight against Idrisid rule. They defeated Ali's armies and took over Fes. After that, Yahya ibn Al-Qassim, drove the Sufrites out of the city and declared himself Ali's successor. The city was populated by Muslims from elsewhere in North Africa, the Middle East, Moriscos, as well as many Jews, who had their own quarter, or Mellah, in the city.

Dynasties in Fes

  • Almohad dynasty (1130-1269)
    During this period, Fes is believed to have grown to be the largest city in the world. This was from 1170 to 1180. It also became a centre for scientific and religious studies, attracting Muslim and Christian students.
  • Marinid dynasty (1269-1420)
  • Kingdom of Fez (1420-1554)
    Muslim refugees flooded into Fes following the fall of Muslim Spain in 1492
  • Ottoman Empire (1554-1603)
    Fez became a vassal city of the Ottomans
  • Capital of Saadi Kingdom of Fez (1603-1627)
  • Saadi Dynasty (1627-1649)
In 1649, Fes was the most important centre for Morocco, a major trading post in northern Africa. Until the 19th century it was the only source of Fez hats (also known as the tarboosh), before they began to be manufactured in France and Turkey; originally, the dye for the hats came from a berry that was grown outside the city, known as the Turkish kizziljiek or Greek akenia (Cornus mascula). Fes was also at the end of a north-south gold trading route from Timbuktu.

Fes has been the capital of Morocco several times in the past, the last ending in 1912, when most of Morocco came under French control and Rabat was selected to be the capital, a status it retained even when Morocco achieved independence in 1956. The decline in significance of Fes resulted in the emigration of its inhabitants. The Jewish population was also decimated. A massacre of Jews took place in 1465. Lately however, the city is being rejuvenated as a tourism destination. Among the tourist sights in Fes are:
  • Bou Inania Madrasa
  • Al-Attarine Madrasa
  • University of Al-Karaouine
  • Zaouia Moulay Idriss II
  • Dar Batha
  • Aben Danan Synagogue

Unesco Inscription

The Medina of Fez is a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1981 under criteria ii and v

Getting there

The Fes-Saiss airport has connections with many cities in Europe. It is served by Royal Air Maroc, Jet4You and Ryanair.

You can take the regular train service from Marrakech and Tangier to Oujda. From Marrakech, the journey is about seven hours and fifteen minutes and costs 276 dirhams first class and 180 dirhams second class. From Casablanca it takes about 4 hours and costs 155 dirhams first class 103 dirhams second class. From Rabat the train takes about three and a half hours and costs 75-105 dirhams. The taxi from the train station to Bab Boujeloud costs about 10 dirhams with taxi meter. Insist on using the meter, say "khdm l-koontoor" (Work the counter) to the taxi driver.

Car Fez is about 4 hours by car from Casablanca. The highway is in excellent condition.

Weather in Fez

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Climate of Fez

Fes is located along the Atlas Mountains and experiences seasonal climate. It is cool in winter to very hot in the summer months of July-September. Nights are always cool (or colder in winter), with daytime temperatures generally rising about +9~14°C (+15~26°F) every day. The winter temperature typically reaches only 16°C (60°F) in December-January

Books on Fez

Looking for books on Fez? Click here to view a selection of Books on Fez at Amazon.

Author: Csörföly Dániel (GFDL)

Map of the Fez

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Source Attribution: Wikipedia (GFDL) and Wikitravel (cc-by-sa-1.0). The above text is governed by the same licenses and is therefore free from copyright.

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