travel in morocco

Single Post

fes el bali medina

Fes El Bali old Medina

Fes El Bali old Medina

The essence of the Fes medina cannot be captured. It transcends forms and senses. The best way to tame the old city is to let yourself be carried away by its intertwined labyrinth of alleyways, stairs, and squares. Always for the narrowest, under the maxim that the shortest path between two points is not always the best. It is in this context that its greatness begins to be revealed.

Bab bou Jeloud Gate

Around the Bab Bou Jeloud gate, also called the Blue gate, there is a persistent aroma of fresh mint that blends with fennel, lemon verbena and orangeee. It is a small market where they sell vegetables and fruits. In each place where you fix your gaze, a beautiful print appears that could well be medieval. And that is one of the wonders of this city, which seems to have eluded the passage of time.

Fes Medina

The old medina of Fes

In the medina -in Arabic, it means city- of Fes there are no cars. It is the largest urban area in the world without cars. The narrow streets built 1,200 years ago do not allow its transit. Perhaps that has been, in part, his salvation from the clutches of modernity. Everything is done on foot, by motorcycle, or on mules, which are used as a means of loading and transportation.
There is a sense of contained decay, as if every wall could collapse at any moment. The woods and structures that prop up the walls are part of the scenery of the medina. However, as if she were an old aristocratic lady, she still maintains shimmers of remote splendor.

The tanners’ neighborhood

The Fes medina could well be distributed by its smells. In Morocco, the sense of smell regains its authority: spices, incense, leather, aromas of freshly cooked food, everything smelleffusivelyThis same sense will alert us to the arrival in the neighborhood of the tanneries. Chouwara’s is the best-known and most impressivI realizealize all its greatness, you have to go up to the roof of one of the surrounding buildings. As you ascend, you experience a foul odor, a mixture of ammonia and putrefaction. This is due to the mixture of pigeon droppings and lime where the skins (usually g oat,  cow, and camel) are soaked for several days in order to soften and tan them. Do not waver, every effort has its reward.

From the te,rraces you can see a unique landscape with small pools, with the colors used to dye the skins. The tinctures are obtained with natural products: the yellow is obtained after macerating mimosa and turmeric flowers; the red is composed of a paste made with poppies. Then, the skins are dried in the sun for several days, so that the tanners finally shape them into a slippe r, bag, or jacket.

Continue your wandering through Fes el Bali (OldFes), whose beginnings date back to the 11th century. With more than 9,000 narrow streets, it is the best preserved and largest medina in the world. The madrasahs – Koranic schools guardians of the knowledge and principles of Islam – are a must-see. The most beautiful is that of Chahrij Bouinania, built-in 1300. The plasterwork and woodwork on its coffered ceilings and walls reveal the fine sense of beauty that Arab culture boasts.

There are several places that, due to their sacred nature, cannot be visited, unless you are a Muslim. An example is the Karaouine Mosque, where a minaret stands, which is the oldest construction in Fes. What can be visited is the Moulay Idriss mosque and mausoleum, which houses the tomb of the founder of Fes. Of course, we can only get to the entrance of the tomb, enough to contemplate the greatness of the place. It is a rectangular patio, surrounded by columns with horseshoe arches with plant motifs and a floor decorated with fine mosaics. In the center are a golden fountain and a huge ornate lamp.

Visit the souks

The souks or small markets appear as you walk. There is a spice souk, where sacks overflowing with cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg or cumin are concentrated. Once again it is the sense of smell that celebrates the discovery. There is another souk for cosmetics, natural medicines, and henna, the famous product with which Moroccan women decorate their skin and dye their hair.

The metal market is very picturesque, it is in a small square where they sell copper and brass chandeliers, teapots, and decorative objects. The dried fruit souk is very popular with tourists. There you can buy peanuts, almonds, dates, and walnuts, at very cheap prices. At this time you have to remember that you should always haggle, it is part of their culture. To get an idea, the real price of the product is usually half of what they ask.

But there is also life behind the walls of the medina. Access to the Royal Palace is closed to tourists, but it is still worth seeing the gold-plated gates and the imposing walls that precede it. Very close to the main entrance are the Agdal gardens, a quiet space where you can rest from the frenzy of the medina. There are promenades lined with rows of palm trees and a lake where young Moroccan couples flock for privacy.

Fes Medina

the Jewish quarter

Nearby is the Mellah, the Jewish quarter. Walking from the Agdal Gardens does not take more than 15 minutes. The vast majority of Moroccan cities have their Mellah and that of Fes, dating from 1438, is the oldest in the entire country. The Jews chose that location, next to the Royal Palace, to enjoy the protection of the caliph. Its narrow streets also offer an endless number of shops and cafes. The architecture of the houses stands out, with large balconies protected by wooden lattices, which prevent being seen but allow light to enter.

At the end of the day, it is highly recommended to watch the sunset from the Merenides tombs, on the outskirts of the medina. In a taxi, it’s about ten minutes. The tombs are still semi-destroyed constructions in a rural environment. Once again an intense smell of humidity and earth emerges, together with the views of a swarm of cities that for the first time seem to be calm.

Leave a Reply:

error: Content is protected !!