Religion, Culture, Handicraft: Reasons to Visit Fez, Morocco

Fez is not only one of the most unique cities in Morocco but in the world. This bustling city near the foothills of the Atlas Mountains is where the country’s strong Muslim heritage was cemented and blossomed during the Middle Ages. Fez is also where Arab, Berber, and Spanish cultures collided various times since the 12th Century. If you want a party culture by the beach, spend your vacation in Casablanca, Tangier or Agadir. Fez is truly a destination for those who want to bask in Moroccan culture and explore the region’s rich ancient history.

Andalusian Mosque

Historic Islamic mosques just don’t get any more authentic than this one. To find this treasure – built in the 9th Century – you have to travel to Fes el Bali, in the old medina quarter. You can take tours of this Idrisid – era place of worship, which is one of the oldest mosques in the world.

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

It isn’t only Islam that has a rich religious tradition in Fez. St. Francis of Assisi was built by Spanish missionaries in the Middle Ages. In addition to daily masses, the church also offers tours for a small fee.

Leather tanneries

There has been a thriving leather industry in Fez for hundreds of years. It comes as no surprise that the city’s many tanneries have become an attraction in and among themselves. When you visit many of these tanneries, you can’t help but feel that you’ve gone back in time to a less technologically – advanced era. Most are composed of stone vessels filled with multicolored dyes and various liquids that resemble a tray of watercolors for painting. At the Chouara Tannery, you can watch the process of hides being made.

Borj Nord or Burj al-Shamal

It’s safe to say that a vacation in Fez is like learning a real-life historic lesson. The entire city throbs with antiquity. This fortress was built by Moroccan soldiers in 1582 during the Saadi Dynasty. It was modeled after Portuguese and Spanish forts of that era. The structure is massive and is a testament to the military might held by the rulers of that time.

Markets galore

Markets (known locally as Souks) are a popular attraction throughout Fez. As you explore them, you’re bound to find a vast array of locally – made handicrafts and other items that make the perfect souvenirs from your vacation. The most visited markets are in Riad Jamaï, Souk el Henna in Medina, and The souk at R’cif Square, which is in the heart of R’cif Square.

Dar Batha

This craft museum, which is located inside of a 19 – Century palace, has many displays of traditional arts, paintings, sculpture as well as pottery and wood carving. It’s worth taking the time to see the dozens of exhibits on display for tourists.

University of Al – Karaouine (Qarawiyyin)

You’ve most likely figured out by now that most of the infrastructure in Fez is old – and that’s just how the locals want it to remain. The city also has the distinction of being home to the world’s oldest university. Karaouine (which also operates as a mosque) was established in 859 AD. If you’re not Muslim you won’t be allowed inside the Mosque, but you can experience this amazing relic of history from the courtyard.

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