One of the most important cities of Morocco, Fez has a rich history of culture, food, and traditions. In spite of the encroachment of modern life, Fez has managed to remain quite unchanged throughout the ages, maintaining its appeal as an Imperial City.
Full of crumbling Islamic architecture and home to one of the first universities in the world, this city has a lot to offer for culture vultures. Here are 6 things you absolutely cannot miss when you visit Fez:
1. Medersa Bou Inania
Located near the entrance to the old Medina of Fez (Fes el Bali) lies the Medersa Bou Inania. Built between 1350 and 1357 by the Merenid Sultan Bou Inan, it is one of the few religious buildings in the city that non-Muslims may enter. One a theological college for Muslim intellectuals, it is filled with stunning mosaics, wooden lattice screens, fountains, and zellij tilework
2. Dar Batha
Inside the Medina lies the Batha Museum inside a Hispano-Moorish summer palace built in the late 19th century. It is home to a massive collection of traditional Moroccan arts and crafts, and a fantastic Andalusian-style garden at its entrance. However, the centerpiece of the museum is the ceramics room, featuring the iconic blue Fez ceramics, colored with cobalt
3. Chouara Tannery
Also located within the Medina are the famous Chouara tanneries. One of the oldest tanneries in the world, here you can watch traditional medieval methods of dying and making leather products. Shops surround the tanneries selling beautiful leather products. While the smell can get quite intense, it is definitely worth a visit.
4. The Merenid Tombs and Borj Nord
For an unparalleled view of the Fes el Bali, hed to the steep hills of Borj Nord. Perched atop the hill is the impressive Arms Museum. It features a collection of rare antique weapons from around the world. Further up lie the golden-stoned Merenid Tombs. Although now in ruins, it is a offers spectacular views of the 1200-year-old Medina, especially at sunset.
5. Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts
Celebrating traditional wooden crafts, this museum houses a diverse collection of old tools and splendid wooden objects, including carved doors, ornate chests and cabinets, lattice screens, prayer beads, and musical instruments. Once an inn for traveling traders and merchants, the building itself, with its stucco detailing, is a work of art.
6. The Al Quaraouiyine Mosque
Built in 859 CE by Fatima al-Fihri, Al Quaraouiyine is believed to be one of the oldest universities in the world. Today, it functions as a mosque. While you cannot enter the mosque itself if you are non-Muslim, you can enter the recently renovated 9th-century library that is open to the public. You can also get a great view of the courtyard from the rooftops of nearby restaurants.