Fez is the most complete medieval city in the world, the largest car free urban area and home to the world’s oldest university the Al-Karaouine, which has been in continuous use since it was founded in 859 AD by Fatima al-Fihri. This imperial city has attracted travellers throughout its history.  In the past, the journey to Fez would have been fraught with dangers – thankfully now it’s only a couple of hours from Europe’s capitals (Fez airport is 30 minutes from the medina).

Fez grew up at the bottom of a valley on the south side of mount Zalagh, along the edge of a river, that you can still see in part today. Even in full summer the river kept flowing. Because of this, there was good pasture & enough running water to cater to a growing city & centre for crafts. Tanning, potting & metalworking guilds helped create prosperity, and artisans can still be seen today in the medina, though much of the potting has been moved to outside the city walls.

During the intervening centuries Fez grew, slowly climbing out of the valley. The Mellah, the jewish quarter & the royal palace formed the southernmost point of the city. When the French started building during the protectorate they built still further south well outside the walls. Only recently has the Ville Nouvelle & the older parts of Fez really joined together.

The Roman ruins of Volubilis are some of the finest in The Maghreb. In a lovely setting, especially fine in spring when the surrounding fields are full of flowers, it has been partially reconstructed with some well preserved mosaics. We can send you off with one of Robert’s Roman Picnics inspired by recipes of the age.

The Middle Atlas mountains are not far if you have the time & are travelling south to the desert or to Marrakesh. Driving up & over them is a great way to see the countryside & appreciate the sheer variety of landscape in this country.

Culture

The Festival of Sacred Music is an annual event held currently in May. It is a week long festival using venues inside & on the edge of the medina.
The Sufi Music Festival is held earlier in the year, usually in April (message us directly for more information).
The French Institute has artist residencies as well as a gallery space often showing Fes-inspired work, made by international artists.

Cafe Clock holds a Sunday sunset concert with young local musicians playing from 18.00 & Thursdays they have live story telling also at 18.00.

If you would like to read a little in advance of visiting Fez – Lords of the Atlas: The Rise and Fall of the House of Glaoua 1893-1956 by Gavin Maxwell, The Spider’s House by Paul Bowles, A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke are good places to start.