Last year, for spring break, I surprised my son with a trip to Morocco. I chose Morocco because I wanted him to have a unique cultural experience in a place very different from where we live. Our first stop was Marrakech. After a few days, we departed Marrakech and made our way through the High Atlas Mountains to Merzouga — the gateway to the Sahara Desert — for a glamping trip. You can follow our journey to the Sahara in this post. From the Sahara Desert we made our way North to spend two days in the magical city of Fes.
Fes is the second-largest city in Morocco — it consists of Fes el Bali (old city), and Fes el Jdid (new city.) Fes was once the capital of Morocco and is still widely viewed as the cultural epicenter of the country. The Fes Medina is the world’s largest urban pedestrian zone and as such, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Basically, the Fes Medina is one giant maze. Ultimately as a tourist this means that you wouldn’t want to navigate Fes without a guide. Even if you tried to make your way on your own you would likely miss some of the most amazing sites tucked away in the small winding alleys of the Medina. One thing you wouldn’t miss Is the spectacular tile and wooden doors with Moorish details throughout the Medina.
Fes el Bali
The entrance to the Fes el Bali is marked by the blue gate. The blue gate is a passageway between the 21st century and the colorful medieval old city. The other side of the gate is green to represent Islam.
Walking through the markets of the Medina is a unique experience with the sights, sounds, and smells. You’ll experience the local way of life. The narrow alleys are lined with stalls of various shops with butchered meats, dried fruits, and live chickens with eggs.
Inside the Medina you don’t want to miss a peek at the Bou Inania Madrasa School — one of the only religious institutions open to non-Muslims. Explore the magnificent marble courtyard, intricate wood carvings, and endless mosaic tile work.
Fes el Jdid
Outside the Medina there are two main attractions to add to your sightseeing itinerary. Wander through the lovely gardens of the Royal Palace. The royal family and government still frequently use this building, so sadly tourists aren’t allowed inside. However, the stunning walls made up of blue mosaic tiles, and the magnificent bronze doors, make it a top thing to do in Fes.
The Chouara tannery is the largest one of the three remaining tanneries in Fes.The same system people used to dye the leather 1000 years ago is still used today. The dyes are all natural and very stinky! From a birds eye view above you can see the process at work.
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