There is undoubtedly a lot to visit in Fez.
Let’s think that it is the oldest imperial city in Morocco, founded around the year 791. It is on the right side of the Fez river, and several civilizations have passed through it since then.
It has been a refuge for Andalusians, Arabs, and Jews throughout its long history. Besides being part of the French protectorate until four days ago, as the one says since it was not independent until 1956.
This journey is why there are so many places to see and plans to do in Fez.
To make it easier for you, we have prepared a selection of places to stop in Fez.
Let’s get down to business.
What to see in Fez in each area
You should know that it is divided into three zones. These belong to different periods and are distributed from north to south as follows:
- Fez el-Bali is the oldest part of the city and where most of the must-see sights in Fez are located.
- Fez el-Jdid, founded a few centuries later, has jewels to see in Fez, such as the seven gates of the Royal Palace.
- The Ville Nouvelle, as you can guess from its name, was created at the time of the French protectorate. It has nothing to do with the other two areas.
In addition to these three distinct parts, the city has other residential areas. With all there is to do in Fez, our advice is to skip them.
Now that we are in place let’s bring out the best of each zone.
What to visit in Fez in Fez el-Bali
As we said, Fez el-Bali is the oldest area of Fez and a real-time trip. It is in an excellent state of preservation.
It is a large medina with more than 9,000 labyrinthine streets through which you can let yourself go and discover corners. You find yourself among motorcycles, donkeys, and carts carrying goods, as there is no car traffic.
There are several must-sees in this gigantic universe. We recommend that you do not obsess about checking any list but explore. You will find your must.
One of them is the Chouwara tannery: if there is something picturesque, different, and authentic to see in Fez is this place.
It is the most extensive of the four remaining in Fez and impresses you. And not only because of the powerful smell given off by the number of containers with dyes -and other ingredients such as lime and pigeon droppings- that are there.
Smells and odors aside, the artisanal process and the chromatic range for dyeing the skins are unique.
In addition to the tanneries, in Fez el-Bali, you have to drop by the Nejjarine and Seffarine squares for their bustling people and famous buildings. And also stop by one of its medersas – schools of the Koran – such as the Medersa Bou Inania or the Medersa Attarine.
Its decorations, full of symbolic tiles and marquetry, are in such good condition.Yyou feel you are in another era.
But as I said: to experience the Fez el-Bali medina, wander without pressure through its dirty streets dodging the locals doing their own thing, enjoy the spectacle of the souk, stop contemplating its mosques, and open all your senses.
What to visit in Fez el-Jdid
This other medina, built about four centuries later next to that of Fez el-Bali, is another must-see in Fez.
As we said, it is next to the oldest and has a very similar structure with its surrounding wall and a network of narrow streets. We could say that getting lost is almost the best thing that can happen to soak up its essence.
Despite their similarities, the two medinas differ mainly by two elements. They are on every list of the essentials of Fez: the Royal Palace and the Jewish Quarter or Mellah.
With the Royal Palace, you finish early because you can’t visit it, but its seven doors are lovely and very photogenic. So, go there and live your Instagram moment.
We know it sounds very superficial. The bronze coffered ceilings flanking the fortress are so beautiful that they make you want to immortalize them.
As far as the Jewish Quarter is concerned, it is not lacking in places with its flavor. Its architectural style could not be further from the Moroccan canons. In contrast to the hermeticism of the Muslim buildings, the Jewish ones have unique iron and wood balconies.
For all these reasons, strolling through the Fez el-Jdid medina is a must in Fez.
And if you can fit it into your travel schedule, look for a restaurant or Riad overlooking the medina where you can have a mint tea or enjoy a sunset dinner; Moroccan cuisine is delicious.
What to visit in Ville Nouvelle
And if the medinas have some differences among themselves, the neighborhood of French origin has them all.
Starting with its origin, which is no longer in the Middle Ages but the contemporary era, and continuing with its structure and style, totally European, the Ville Nouvelle has nothing in common with Fez el-Bali or Fez el-Jdid.
With Hassan II Avenue as the backbone, in this neighborhood where the most economically powerful foreigners and locals live, you can find the headquarters of institutions, banks, and Western-style hotels.
Huge avenues, great shopping, and traffic, as much as you want.
The truth is that this neighborhood does not have much mystery. It is curious to see the contrast between the other areas to visit in Fez and this newly created.
And so far, this review of the best things to see in Fez, a destination that we include in many of our tours where we take you to the desert of Morocco and the most emblematic places of the country, such as this imperial city.
What, when are you coming?