Visitors to Morocco will have the chance to discover many historic cities that are full of authenticity and originality. In this article I will write about the fascinating city of Fes, one of the most prestigious cities in Morocco, and I will give some information about its history, historical monuments and natural spaces.
The beautiful city of Fes is considered to be the spiritual capital of Morocco due to its rich and long history. It was founded in 789 BC by Idriss II and from its foundation the city has been inhabited mostly by Muslims. In 810 BC, the impressive Al-Karaouine mosque was built and remains to this day the largest, as well as the oldest mosque in Africa.
Fes was believed to be the largest and most populated city in the world from 1170 to 1180. It was also the most important centre of the Kingdom of Fes, mostly the religious and the scientific heart where Christians and Muslims from all over Europe came to study. After the Reconquest of Spain in the year 1492, there was an exodus of Muslims and it is from then on that the numbers of Muslims moving to Fes increased drastically.
It was in 1548 that Fes became a part of the Moroccan Empire and 1579 marked the completion of the conquests in Morocco, which were started by Suleiman the Magnificent. During the time of the Alaouite Dynasty, founded in 1649, Fes became a major trading zone of the Barbary Coast.
Fes had also been the capital of Morocco during different times, but this ended in 1912 when the major portion of Morocco came under the influence of the French colonizers, and Rabat was the city chosen to become the capital of the new colonial empire.
Fes has a very traditional character but includes a modern section or « New City » too, which has emerged as a bustling trading centre. With its religiousness and spirituality, its mixture of tradition and modernity, and its multicultural history, Fes is one of the most picturesque of all the Imperial cities of Morocco.
In Fes, you will certainly admire many historical monuments. First, you can visit the old medina or “Fez el Bali”, listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, where you can find many monuments. One of the most impressive ones is the Al-Karaouine mosque, which was built by Fatima Al Fihria in 877. It is the largest mosque in Africa and contains the first university in the world.
Other monuments include the museum of Moulay Idriss, the founder of this beautiful city, as well as the city walls, which are pierced by many beautiful doors, such as Bab Ftouh, Bab Lmakina, Bab Boujloud, etc. In addition to that, in the old medina you can admire the Moroccan craftsmanship in countless types of products, from the traditional zellij (terra cotta tile work covered with enamel used in ceramic mosaics displaying geometrical patterns), wood work, spices, rugs, leather goods, etc.
In Fez, there are many natural spaces that are waiting for your visit. One of the loveliest ones is Moulay Yakoub, located in 10 miles from the city centre, where you can enjoy swimming in the hot water (54° Celsius or 130° Fahrenheit) and where its water is excellent as a treatment for numerous health problems. You can also visit the Sidi Hrazem region, where you can enjoy its crystal clear waters.
Fez is a synonym of spirituality, authenticity and a long history. Its historical monuments bear witness of the creativity of Moroccan people, who invite with open arms and hearts to discover this fantastic city. Take this opportunity to enjoying the beauty of Moroccan life in the fascinating city of Fez.