Embracing Slow Travel in Fez, Morocco

Embracing Slow Travel in Fez, Morocco

those acquainted with the intensity, richness and visceral
nature of cities such as Marrakech,
, Fez reveals itself to be both reassuringly familiar
and refreshingly different. The ancient imperial city, once
Morocco’s capital, basks in the heritage of the great scholars,
philosophers, astronomers, kings and merchants who had opulent
palaces, mosques and madrasas – Islamic schools – built here in the
13th and 14th centuries.

The thronging medina, home to some 160,000 people, might be the
world’s largest car-free urban area, yet the cacophony of donkey
hooves on cobbles, touting souk traders, strains of music and
outbursts of laughter create their own special chaos. Don’t be
prepared to get lost in the maze of alleys, monumental gates,
fragrant food stands and ornately carved doorways; intend to get
lost. You’ll be rewarded by stumbling upon intricately tiled
fountains burbling in shaded courtyards, industrious backstreet
coppersmiths, precariously stacked mountains of peaches,
clementines and rose buds, and fly-dotted animal carcasses dangling
outside butcher shops.

Press a sheaf of fresh mint close to your nose while touring the
tanneries of Chouara – a mosaic of giant jewel-coloured inkwells
into which animal pelts are dunked by bare-chested men seemingly
immune to the overpowering stench. Recover your sense of smell by
sipping tea in a leafy rooftop garden, with a sea of minarets below
you. Climb to the ruins of the 14th-century Merenid Tombs at sunset
as the medina’s lights come alive and allow the haunting sound of
the muezzins’ call to prayer wash over you.

As with its sister city of Marrakech, Fez offers plush riads to
which you can retreat after busy mornings haggling in the souks.
There’s also leafy gardens, awe-inspiring mosques and smart
restaurants that deliver fine Moroccan dining.

If you’ve ever admired Marrakech’s beautifully painted tiles –
zellige – you’ll be keen to know that Fez does them better. In
fact, this is where the art form was born. What Fez doesn’t do is
the frenetic; it offers an altogether more relaxed pace of life,
which suits us right down to the ground.

@poppyhollis | poppyhollis.com

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