Fez, Morocco

Fez, Morocco

At the crossroads between Morocco’s major cities, Fez has a vibrant culture that has earned it the moniker of the “Mecca of the West”. Discover colourful markets, bustling tanneries and time-honoured institutions in this car-free Unesco World Heritage Site.


Fez, Morocco.

Why now?

Despite serving as Morocco’s capital city several times
throughout its history, Fez is often overshadowed by the country’s
more prominent destinations: magnificent
, tantalising
and captivating

Nevertheless, located between these major cities, Fez offers a
colourful blend of Morocco’s vibrant culture – so much so that the
city has been nicknamed the “Mecca of the West” and the “Athens of
Africa”. It’s the oldest of Morocco’s four imperial cities (the
others being Marrakech,
and Rabat), making its ancient medina ideal for
exploring. This Unesco World Heritage Site is one of the world’s
largest car-free urban zones; wander through twisting lanes and
dodge donkey-drawn carts to find colourful spice markets, sizzling
food stalls and hidden doorways leading to rooftops overlooking the
city’s colourful minarets.

Don’t miss…

… the Chaouwara Tanneries, where you can watch the process of
leather making. Head deep into the clusters of leather shops to get
to the heart of the action, and time your visit for the morning
when the pits are filled with coloured dye. While the smell might
be off-putting (methods from medieval times are still used,
employing ingredients such as cow urine and quicklime), this is
Fez’s most iconic sight.

Who to take with you

Once a popular destination for scholars and philosophers, the
city is comprised of many buildings that once served as mosques and
madrasas (religious schools). Take a keen academic with you, and
stop by the University of Al Quaraouiyine – founded in 859, it’s
the world’s oldest continuously functioning university – and the Al
Quaraouiyine Mosque, one of Africa’s largest centres of worship.
While neither are open to tourists, both are worth admiring from
the outside. Afterwards, head inside the Al Quaraouiyine Library,
it’s one of the oldest in the world and home to tomes dating back
centuries, such as a ninth-century edition of the Qur’an.

Keen artists or ceramicists make great companions in Fez, too.
Ornate pottery and intricate mosaics decorate every street and shop
– be sure to drop by Art Naji, where artisans throw pots using clay
from the hills surrounding the city, hand-paint crockery and lay
out vibrant zellige (mosaic tiles).

When to go

Visit in May
before temperatures peak, but when the weather is warm enough to
wander around souks and gardens.

Where to stay

Stay at Palais Amani for riad-style
rooms, views over gardens or the medina and a traditional

Most likely to bump into…

Bargain hunters. Fez was once a popular pit stop for wealthy
merchants en route to the Silk Roads and sub-Saharan trade routes,
and today many still travel to purchase goods from the medina and
artisans’ markets.

Essentials to bring with you

These lightweight Gucci silk-twill pants will keep
you cool in Fez’ summer heat, while also blending in to the bright
colours of markets and spice stalls.

How to get there

Direct flights from London to Fez take around 3 hours and 20

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