Leaving our hotel or Riad after breakfast for a tour of the Mellah, the Medina and Souqs, the famous Tanneries, the exquisite Mosques and Medrasas, the famous Fes Pottery kilns, a tour around the ramparts with its many babs and a visit to the renowned Museum of Moroccan Art. We start with our drive via the Mechouer to the impressive Dar el-Makhzen to stop for some 15 minutes at the Royal Palace with its magnificient seven bronze gates, then continue on to the Borj sud for a panoramic view of the Medina. Off now to start our walking tour of the labyrinth of the ancient Fes Medina (a UNESCO world heritage site); with its winding alleyways to the impressive Karaouine Mosque and University, a stroll into the past to this wonderful Mosque and adjacent aromatic Souq of el-Attarine of spices and vegetables; the el-Attarine Medrasa; the Kissaria and Draz Quarters and the renowned tanneries on the bank of the Oued Fes. On now to the Zaouia Moulay Idriss to finish up at the delightful el-Nejjarine Square with its Plaza, fountain. Nearby we’ll stop for a welcome light lunch (drinks not included) in one of the delightful Medina Restaurants.
On now to the Dra Betha and a visit of the Museum of Moroccan Art before rejoining our vehicle at the Bab Boujloud. That’s the walking done for the day, for now we drive to the 16th century Potter’s Quarter (Fakhkharine), not far from the present day Bab Ftouh in an area called Guerouaoua, to watch the artists working at their kilns and, perhaps, to buy some of their unique clayware. Back into our vehicle and up to the sixteenth centry Saadien watchtower at the North Borj for yet another, but so different, panoramic view of this city of 1001 Nights. So much history, so much variety, so many memories to be captured on film before returning finally by car to our hotel at the end of an exceptional day.
Travelling from the Ville Nouvelle to Fez El Bali is like stepping back in time. The essential footprint of the medina hasn’t changed in nearly a millennium, as the surrounding hills have constrained expansion – the last big growth of the traditional medina was in the 13th century with the construction of Fez El Jdid. Today, around 90,000 Fassis still call this maze of twisting alleys, blind turns and hidden souqs home, while tourists call it one of the most mind-boggling places they’ll visit in Morocco.