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Fascinating Fez- The city that founded Morocco
Fez is a city in northern inland Morocco and the second largest city of Morocco after Casablanca. The prestigious city of Fez, founded in 8th century under the Idrisi rule who brought Islam to morocco, has a glorious historical, cultural and religious heritage. It has embraced Morocco great dynasties. This imperial city of Fez has witnessed its golden age under the Merenid dynasty between the 11th and 14th centuries. Fez has always been a meeting point of civilizations, a blend of Arabs, Berbers, Sephardic Jews, Andalusians, Sicilians, culminating in a flourishing of art and knowledge, coupled with a commercial development. The world sacred music festival held each year is an event where all the cultures blend. In fact, Fez is Morocco’s spiritual and cultural center.
This route is fully customizable
Transfer from Fes airport or any other city of your choice. Check in your boutique Riad in the Medina of Fez. After some refreshment start your first part exploration journey of the magnificent Fez old medina. It is a real labyrinth left intact since the Middle Ages. It has been classified as a world heritage in 1981 by UNESCO. Fez medina is considered the largest medina in the Arab world and surrounded by 24 kilometers of walls. The medina encloses 9500 houses, 176 mosques, 83 mausoleums, 11 madrasas dating from the Merenids dynasty and 40 hammams. The medina also encloses magnificent palaces.
Enter the old medina of Fez, through the bleu gate known as Bab Boujloud dating to the 12th century. The name is a vernacular corruption of the expression "Bou Jnoud", meaning a parade ground or military square, referring to the large square known as Place Bou Jeloud just outside and to the west. It is also located near the site of what used to be one of the main citadels of Fes el-Bali, the Kasbah Bou Jeloud.
Stroll the Talaa Kebeera shortly after Bab Boujloud and continues on through the much of the medina. Many different shops, souks and sights are located just off this main road. Though often crowded by locals and tourists alike, it is a nice taste of old Fez.
Visit the Dar Batha Museum. Dar Batha Museum is located in the heart of the medina. Before becoming a museum in 1915, the building was a beautiful palace of Arab-Andalusian style, built by Moulay el Hassan in the late nineteenth century. This museum is full of treasures that reflect the traditional art of Fez and its region carved wood, embroidery, zellige, wrought iron, jewelry, coins, carpets … depicting the stunning wealth of Fassi craftsmanship.
Continue to The Madrasa Bou Inania founded in AD 1351–56 by Abu Inan Faris. It is widely acknowledged as an excellent example of Marinid architecture.
Visit Nejjarine Museum on your way. This well-restored former Fondouk – a place where traders took lodgings and stored and sold their goods during the 18th century – is now home to the Nejjarine Museum of Wood Arts and Crafts. Opened in 1998, the museum allows visitors to marvel at such artefacts as craftsmen’s tools, prayer beads, ancient chests, and musical instruments.
Visit (from outside) the Zaouia of Moulay Idriss II, a religious shrine containing the tomb of Idris II who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828. He is the main founder of the city of Fes and of the first Moroccan Islamic state. In this place your will encounter amazing shops selling candles and locals Fessi sweets altogether with various fragrances used for religious and special events.
Visit Kissaria Serrajine, where an irresistible range of silks, brocades, braided trimmings, embroidered slippers and kaftans awaits you coming. Along the streets you can see a fabulous expertise at work. Continue to Seffarine known for its Boilermakers, coppersmiths, glazed ceramic workshops marked by the famous cobalt blue of Fez. All is a fascinating world of craftsmanship
Visit the famous Quaraouiyine University, the oldest existing, constantly operating. It the first degree-awarding educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records. Quaraouiyine University is referred to as the oldest university that was founded by Fatima al-Fihria in 859 with an associated madrasa, which next became one of the principal spiritual and educational centers of the historic Muslim world. It was incorporated into Morocco's modern state university system in 1963.
Visit the Al-Attarine Madrasa close to the Al-Quaraouiyine. It was built by the Marinid sultan Uthman II Abu Said in 1323. The madrasa takes its name from the Souk al-Attarine, the spice and perfume market.
Visit the Glaoui palace and the Mokri Palace where to admire the fine work of the woodcarvers or the delicate lines of the wrought iron sculptured with surgical precision.
After enjoying your lunch continue your visit by visiting Fez tanneries referred to as the Chouwara tanneries. The tanneries, made of numerous ditches filled to the brim with a incredible variety of pigments, process skins for production of sleep, cow and goat leather in the traditional manner. Look down at the proceedings from a neighboring rooftop terrace-a giant artist’s palette in all its colorful splendors.
Visit the Pottery area and you will come across several scattered shops of ceramic around the medina, each with its own specialty. Some sell fountains, others tilework, etc
Finally return back to your boutique riad in the Old medina, B&B accommodation.
Breakfast at your Riad and get ready for further exploring, the richness of Fes. This time you visit Fes Jdid starting by the Royal Palace, the main monument of Fez el-Jdid. It offers impressive views over its finely carved doors. The creation of Fez el-Jadid marks the full development of the city and the climax of Moorish art illustrated by the construction of magnificent buildings.
Continue to The Mellah, Jewish Quarter founded after the sixteenth century by the Sultan to protect the Jewish community in the city is crossed by the main street, a lively street gathering all kinds of businesses: jewels, upholstery, fabrics. The houses of the Mellah differ from Muslim houses by the windows looking on the outside and their wooden and wrought iron balconies.
Visit the Synagogue Ibn Danan a seventeenth-century Judeo Moroccan heritage masterpiece that is worth visiting.
Enter Fas El Jdid through its monumental gate Bab Semmarine and wander along the shops lined up on both sides.
Continue to Jnan Sbil garden formerly known as the Bou Jeloud gardens on the north-western edge of the medina. This garden has palms, eucalyptus, weeping willows, citrus trees and bamboo. It was opened to the public by Moulay Hassan in the 19th century. It covers 7.5 hectares. This garden is one of the oldest gardens in Fes. Because of its historical importance, great care was taken to restore the Jnan Sbil garden to its original design.
After lunching your driver will drive you to Borj Nord from which you can have gorgeous views of Fes. At night, the old city’s walls and ramparts are lit up and you can enjoy panoramic views of the city. The Borj is a fort built in 1582 by the powerful Saadi sultan Ahmad al-Mansour to defend the city from external attacks. It was modeled after the Portuguese Forts in the 16th century. The Borj is considered the largest defense structures around the city of Fez. Today, the fort is open to public as the Museum of Arms.
Take a short hike to the remains of Merenids Tombs which are perched on the hill of Al qolla. this 14th century site was the royal necropolis. From 1361 to 1398, Abou El Hassan’s successors and others of royal linage were buried there. Now in ruins, little is left of the necropolis beyond the remains of three cupolas and mosque, and a few sections of wall. But from the top of this gentle hillside overlooking the city, the views are mesmerizing experience.
Before going back to your Riad, your driver will advise where to enjoy delicious Fassi food for dinner, B&B accommodation
Have breakfast and get ready for today excursion to the Middle Atlas range. To day you will take a leisurely drive through the Middle Atlas to visit Ifrane National Park and its regions. It was created in October 2004 to preserve the remarkable species of its territory. It englobes internationally important ecosystems.
You will pass by the small Berber villages such as Azou which located at a strategic crossroads between the Middle Atlas and the High Atlas between Meknes, Fez, Ifrane, Midelt and Khenifra. Azrou is at an altitude of 1250 m and surrounded by mountains covered with green oak and cedar.
The town of Azrou is home to a craftwork centre famed for the working of cedar wood and the weaving of Bni-M’gild tribal carpets. You can also pay a visit to the Kasbah (fortress), which was built during the reign of Moulay Ismail. The town is also known for salmon trout farming, the produce of which can be enjoyed fresh or smoked.
You will pass “The Cèdre Gouraud Forest” which is located to the north, where one of the sub-populations of the Barbary macaque live. Likewise, the Azrou forest offers excellent hiking itineraries for ecotourism lovers. The region is also known for its cherry trees and apple trees.
Continue to Ifrane is located at 1650 meters above sea level. It has been labelled the “Switzerland of Morocco”, due to the European style of its buildings (stone chalets with sloping red-tiled roofs). A mountain town with wide, tree-lined streets, Ifrane gives visitors the impression that they are wandering through a Savoyard landscape. It ia a haven of calm with its beautiful surrounding countryside.
Ifrane attracts a lot of skiers who come to practice their art on the slopes of the neighboring resorts of Michlifen (2036m) and Jbel Hebri (2104m), respectively located 17 and 27 km south of Ifrane.
Have lunch in one of the restaurant in Ifrane, before heading back to Fez enjoying the gorgeous scenery of the Middle Atlas. B&B accommodation in a boutique Riad in Fes medina.
Breakfast and departure.