There are approximately 1,112,000 people living in Fez often referred to as Morocco’s cultural capital. It’s primarily known for its Fes El Bali walled Medina, with medieval Marinid architecture, vibrant souks and old-world atmosphere. In 1981 it was listed as a world heritage site under the name Medina of Fez.
The Medina is home to over 100,000 people and there are around 80,000 shops! The laneways are very narrow, crowded, hot and dirty. There are many donkeys carrying their loads coming through with their handlers calling “Ballack, Ballack” meaning “get out of the way”. If you don’t then you must suffer the consequences.
You can easily get lost in one of the many souqs here but thankfully we had a guide and if you are going to Fez I suggest you do too. Otherwise you WILL get lost and it could take you a very long time to find your way out. It is such a fascinating place and it remains the world’s largest car-free urban area.
Of course no visit to the Medina is complete without a visit to one of the many many carpet shops. If you have never experienced buying a carpet in Morocco, Turkey or any other country then I suggest you do yourself a favour and do so. You are always given mint tea and told how the rugs are made etc. After a lengthy showing of just about all the carpets in the shop you are of course expected to buy one, which we did!
We also went to the tannery another must see on the list. This is where they make all varieties of leather goods from the hides of animals. You are given a sprig of mint when you arrive (we wondered why but soon found out) to hide the smell of the place.
I don’t know how those poor men can work in the 40 degree heat in smelly water which is no doubt toxic and get paid a mere 100DH (A$10) a week. We don’t know how lucky we are.
After our visit to the tannery we had a lovely lunch in a beautiful old house. The food was delicious. These houses are hidden behind little doors and when you walk inside it is just amazing.
Silk is also another product of Morocco and of course there are a lot of these shops where you can very easily be led to buy.
Something that Lee wanted to do here was have a good old fashioned shave with a cut throat razor. So a hair cut and a shave all for A$5. He was very brave I thought.
Don’t go home without some saffron and other spices, brass lamps and lights (beautiful), a tajine and of course a carpet. There are many other amazing things to buy in Fez but unfortunately not all will fit in your luggage.
We also had a day trip to Sefrou a small Berber village on the outskirts of Fez. It was a lot cooler here as we walked around the Medina and admired the many fresh fruit and vegetables.
Our visit to Fez was complete. Some may not like the chaos you experience in the medina however we couldn’t help but be charmed by the many alleyways that led to squares with exquisite fountains, beautiful restaurants, streets bursting with aromatic food stands and the many fascinating people who live and work here. A truly incredible city.