THE MOST IMPERIAL CITY OF THEM ALL
The first capital of the kingdom in 808 under Idriss II, and then twice again, in the XIIIth Century under the Merinides and in the XIXth Century during the reign of Moulay Abdallah, Fez, the spiritual and cultural centre of Morocco, is a City of multiple facets quite unmatched in its splendeur. Apart from the European town built after the First World War, there are two distinctly different areas of the City; Fez el Jédid (”the New”) and Fez el Bali (”the Old”).
In Fez el Bali there are also two distinctly different districts. In 818, several hundred Moslem families settled on the right bank of Wadi Fez, after having been expelled from Andalusia by the Christian armies. Seven years later, 300 Kerouan families established their homes on the opposite bank. The Andalousian Arabs brought with them their art and the experience of a civilisation at the very peak of its glory. The Andalousian quarter is particularly impressive for its splendeur and its profusion of fine buildings. As if the palaces were competing with one another, each with their sculpted woodwork, engraved bronze, polychrome carving, moucharabies, columns and sculpted plasterwork. A few steps away, the mighty door of the Andalousian Mosque invites the faithful to prayer. Easily identified by its green and white minaret, the El Sahri medersa (1321) seems to be literally overflowing with luxurious decoration. All the medersas (Koranic schools) house a courtyard paved in marble or onyx that can be glimpsed through the open doors as a sanctuary of light. The voices of chanting children drift down from an open window. A sensitive ear will be able to discern in them the vibrations that link a whole people to its culture, the earth to the sky and matter to the spirit.
NOT TO BE MISSED
SPECIALLY FOR GOURMETS
Every inch a capital, Fez is also the capital of gastronomy. It is the birthplace of the legendary and succulent pastilla: a flaky pastry as light as rice paper stuffed with a subtle blend of minced pigeon, sugar, almonds and spices. And then, if you happen to meet a nougat vendor as you stroll through the streets, don’t try to resist the temptation !
THE BLUE TREASURES OF DAR-BATHA
Close to the admirable Hou Inania medersa, the Dar-Batha museum is overflowing with treasures. For example, the amazing ceramic collection, the finest in Morocco, where the art and techniques of Fez craftsmen are seen to their best advantage. The famous “Fez blue” generally serves as a background, upon which geometrical or stylised motifs are interlaced in an infinite variety of patterns.
THE CHERRY ORCHARDS
At Sefrou, in June, the local inhabitants celebrate the return of the cherries. They walk in procession to the tomb of the prophet Daniel. Then the joyful celebration is followed by folk dancing and singing. A delightful opportunity to discover the living folklore of the Middle Atlas.
INTO THE CAVERNS
Not far from the city of Taza, the Friouato caverns reach to a depth of 180 metres. A staircase leads down into a veritable underground palace. Halls and galleries seem haunted by other-worldly forms - the stalactites and stalagmites reaching out into the void in a fairyland of mineral sculpture.
THE WATERS OF MOULAY YACOUB
This is where you are encouraged to take the plunge! The warm and curative waters at Moulay Yacoub relieve rheumatisms, nose and throat infections, skin problems and gynaecological disorders. Be one of the first to enjoy the recently opened cosy and luxurious spa facilities at Moulay Yacoub with its teams of renowned medical specialists.