24 (frantic!) Hours in Fes

‘So much to do, so much to see, so little time…’ perfectly defines our time in Fes. While many travelers spend 3 or 4 days here; we barely stitched together 1 night + 1 day to = 24 hours.

We did – however – cover a lot of ground in those 24 hours! So in much the same manner that we SPRINTED through the world’s largest medina, we’re going to take you all on a fast-paced-photo-montage-marathon-tour through the city also known as The Mecca of the West.

Accommodation for the evening: the beautiful Dar Attajali.
DnA scored “The Purple Room” which paired perfectly with our purple luggage. Thank you Dar Attajali!
Rooftop views from Dar Attajali at dusk.

travelhelix trivia: we mentioned earlier that Fes is sometimes referred to as The Mecca of the West. As it turns out, Fes also has a 2nd nickname: The Athens of Africa. Acropolis, anyone?

Fes Mosque at Dusk
Kairaouine Mosque at night.
Entrance to the King’s Palace.
The gorgeous gold entry door to the King’s Palace.
Brilliant zellige tilework on the King’s Palace. As explained by our guide, every color represents something:
Blue of Fez
Red of Marrakech
Green of Meknes
White of Rabat
Yellow of Berber
Black of Africa
4 of these soldiers are trying very hard not to smile 🙂
*permission to take this picture was requested, and granted*
Walking through the Melleh – the Jewish quarter in the Medina of Fes (14th century).
Incredibly intricate architecture.
Today’s sheep lesson: “live wool” is used for weaving; “dead wool” is used for stuffing.
Fes Medina
The world’s largest medina: view from afar.
That stunning turquoise roof belongs to the University of al-Qarawiyyin.

Let the Shopping Commence!

Stop #1: Pottery

The Pottery Quarter of Fes is located outside the medina in an area called Ain Nokbi. We visited one of the many pottery cooperatives that operate in the area, where we observed every step of the pottery manufacturing process. Very cool experience!

The Fassi pottery of Fes is considered locally as the best in Morocco, and globally as some of the best in the world. So – what makes Fassi pottery unique?

  1. grey clay: rich with magnesium, the local grey clay is much stronger than the more commonly-used red clay, which is rich with iron.
  2. olive pits: the kilns used to fire the pottery are fueled by olive pits, which burn at the high temperatures needed for grey clay. The olive pits used in the pottery industry are provided by the olive oil industry – what a great use of resources and effort to minimize waste!
  3. two times: every piece of pottery is fired twice in the kiln. The second round of firing is said to provide added strength.
Fes Pottery
Fassi pottery of Fes: tables on display – and available for sale – in the showroom.
One of the secrets behind Fassi pottery: using olive pits in the kiln.

Stop #2: Berber Carpets

Back inside the medina walls, we visited a Berber carpet cooperative where we saw some breathtaking carpets & rugs, and observed one local artisan hard at work.

Berber carpet cooperative, Fes.
Fes Carpet House
Local artisan spinning a Berber carpet inside the cooperative, Fes.
Fes Carpet House
Rugs on display – and available for sale – at the Berber carpet cooperative, Fes.

Stop #3: Leather Tannery

The Chouara Tannery of Fes has been operating for over 1000 years, and very little has changed over time. The rich colors of the all-natural dying pits still match those used generations ago:

  • red: poppy flower
  • orange: henna
  • brown: cedar wood
  • green: wild mint
  • blue: indigo
  • yellow: pomegranate skin (less expensive than saffron!)
Fes Leather Tannery
Outdoor dying pits at the Chouara Leather Tannery, Fes.
Fes Leather Tannery
Leather & suede jackets on display at the tannery. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, the shop will customize it for you, and deliver it to your riad!

And finally: a few extra photo highlights from our exploration of the Souks of Fes:

Local butcher shop in the souks of Fes.
Sweet treats are also available in the souks of Fes!
Our guide – Idriss – in front of the house he grew up in!

So – that’s what happened in Fes! It was a whirlwind 24 hours, but well worth it.

As you plan your own Fes adventure, do yourself a favor and give yourself at least a couple days to experience & appreciate this ancient, beautiful & culturally-rich city.

Now, off to Chefchaouen: the Blue Pearl of Morocco! 

Cheers!

-DnA

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