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Fez is the second largest city of Morocco, with a population of 1.1 million (2014). Fez was the capital city of modern Morocco until 1925 and is now the capital of the Fès-Meknès administrative region. The city has two old medina quarters, the larger of which is Fes el Bali. It is listed as a World Heritage Site and is believed to be one of the world's largest urban pedestrian zones (car-free areas). University of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in 859, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the world. The city has been called the "Mecca of the West" and the "Athens of Africa".
The city was founded on a bank of the Jawhar river by Idris I in 789, founder of the Zaydi Shi'i Idrisid dynasty. His son, Idris II (808), built a settlement on the opposing river bank. These settlements would soon develop into two walled and largely autonomous sites, often in conflict with one another: Madinat Fas and Al-'Aliya. In 808 Al-'Aliya replaced Walili as the capital of the Idrisids.
Visite Bab Boujloud
The Bab Bou Jeloud is a gate that leads to the old medina, Fes el Bali, in Fez, Morocco. Surrounded by high walls, the Pasha Baghdadi square connects the medina with Fez el-Jedid. On one side of the square, you can make out the Bab Bou Jeloud, a beautiful monumental gate built in 1913 and the main entrance to Fez el-Bali. The development of heavy artillery led to the loss of the defensive effectiveness of the gates of Fez, which began to be considered simply as beautiful architectural elements, thereby contributing to the prestige of the city. Bab Bou Jeloud, built in the Moorish style, consists of three symmetrical horseshoe arches. The facade is beautified by a design rich in ornamentation based on geometric, calligraphic, and floral decoration and interlaced polychrome glazed tiles, which are predominantly blue.
Zaouia Moulay Idriss II
The Zaouia Moulay Idriss II is a zaouia in Fes, Morocco, dedicated to and tomb of Moulay Idriss II, who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828 and founded the city of Fes for the second time in 810. In the year 1308, almost five centuries since the death of Moulay Idriss II, an uncorrupted body was found on the spot. People believed this was Moulay Idriss II and founded the Zaouia. Originally built by the Marinids circa 1440, over the centuries the building was amended heavily, and almost completely replaced in the 18th century by Moulay Ismail in a style typical of the Alaouites that govern Morocco to this day.
For a true olfactory experience of medieval Morocco, follow your nose to the Tanners’ Quarter, where barefoot workers tread skins in dyeing pits. Colors vary depending on the day, but hides are first dunked in vats filled with a mixture of cow urine and quicklime (to strip off remnants of hair), before soaking in a softening wash of acidic pigeon excrement. There are three in the city, but the 11th century Chouara Tannery is the largest, surrounded by leather goods stores where you’ll be handed a sprig of mint to sniff before being escorted to a terrace to view the pungent pits below. Be prepared to engage in some hardcore bargaining for any souvenirs.
The Royal Palace of Fez (Dar el Makhzen)
The 17th century palace in Fez el Jdid, home to Mohammed VI king of Morocco when he’s in the city, can be appreciated only from the outside—a shame, because behind those beautiful (locked) doors are extensive landscaped grounds, painted ceilings, intricate mosaics, small mosques, and a madrasa.