Often overlooked by tourists who flock to Marrakesh, Tangier and Casablanca, Fez is an ancient self-confident city that for centuries has bred scholars, artisans and gourmands.
Fez beguiles visitors with its dark car-free Medina that still uses donkeys and carts to supply goods for its 70,000 inhabitants. Caught in a state of perpetual pandemonium that has existed since medieval times, Fez is a city you instantly fall in love with or retreat from in horror. With endless winding alleyways that open out into squares with gorgeous fountains, its charms lay waiting to be discovered by the intrepid explorer.
Unlike Marrakesh that now feels more like a European city than an ancient Arab metropolis full of spices sellers and artisan craftsman, Fez is a city that needs to be visited now while the old world attraction battles technology and the fast-changing world around it.
Founded in the 8th century by the first royal family to rule Morocco, Fez became the nation’s cultural and commercial hub. In the Fez of today, you can still escape back in time while you wander the Medina a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. Outside the Medina, in what is known as the ‘Ville Nouvelle’ you can imagine yourself back in Colonial France with wide palm-fringed boulevards and outdoor cafes that still feels as though they are trapped in a time warp where white-gloved waiters serve sweet mint tea.
Over the centuries Fez prospered through immigration that saw Jews and Muslims arrive from Tunisia and Spain bringing with them their own cultural and commercial traditions.
Fez is currently undergoing massive changes in an effort to bring it into the 21st century, which means the time to visit Fez is now before the city loses its soul to progress and atomization.