Fez - or Fès - is the oldest and most important of the four Cities of Kings in Morocco, and it was also its capital until 1912. In addition, it is said to be the most Arabic of all Moroccan towns and often called the “Pearl of the Orient”. El-Kairaouine-University is the most ancient university in the Islamic world, and being the second biggest city in the country, Fez is also Morocco’s spiritual and religious core with a tradition dating back 1,000 years. For a long time, this City of Kings was the intellectual capital of the country, with many poets and thinkers emerging from here, and this ambience is still noticeable in today’s atmosphere.
Regarded from above, Fez looks like a counterpart to Rome, built on seven hills, so its houses and living quarters are nestled into the surrounding countryside. A great overview can be obtained from the two towers “Borj Sud” and “Borj Nord”. The new part of Fez, “Fez el Djedid”, is also worth a stroll. In the 13th century, it was added to the existing town under the reign of the Merinids, and it houses numerous sights: the King’s Palace, the beautiful gardens of Boujelod with a waterwheel, the Jewish quarter Mellah and the Ville Nouvelle, a French remnant from the 20th century. The oldest part of town, “Fez el Bali”, has been declared a world heritage site by the UNESCO. Founded in the 9th century, it still accommodates most of Fez’s population today – roughly 800,000 people.
Countless alleys wind through the old bazaar, where many interesting cultural and historical highlights are to be found. Many charming palaces, a Madrasa (Koran school) and the Fondouk (clinic for donkeys and mules) hide behind rather unimposing facades - just like the famous tanner’s and dyer’s quarters. This area’s structure resembles the Middle Ages, and a highly intense and vibrant life welcomes the visitor who is overwhelmed by the abundance of sensations interfering with his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. A taste of “The Arabian Nights” eternally dominates the atmosphere.