So much to do, so much to see, so little time…perfectly defines our visit to 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 way that we ran through the world’s largest medina, we’re going to take you on a fast-paced-photo-montage-marathon-tour through the vibrant Moroccan city of Fes.
From rooftops to hilltops to the narrow streets of the medina, we’ll show you the best views and sights to see. We’ll also show you the best places to shop for the most authentic Moroccan pottery, leather goods and Berber carpets.
Welcome to Fes: Mecca of the West.
Where we stayed
Our accommodation for the evening: the beautiful Dar Attajali.
Rooftop views of Fes in the evening
The city sometimes called The Mecca of the West also has a 2nd nickname: The Athens of Africa. Can you spot the Acropolis on the hillside in the background?
The King’s Palace
As explained by our guide, every color of tile has a geographical or cultural significance:
- Blue: Fez
- Red: Marrakech
- Green: Meknes
- White: Rabat
- Black: Africa
- Yellow: Berber
The Medina of Fes
Shopping in Fes: pottery, carpets & leather
Stop #1: Moroccan pottery
The Pottery Quarter is located outside the medina in an area called Ain Nokbi. We visited one of the many pottery cooperatives that operate in the area. There, 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?
- Grey clay: rich with magnesium, local grey clay is much stronger than the more commonly-used red clay, which is rich with iron.
- 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. Great use of resources and effort to minimize waste!
- Two times: every piece of pottery is fired twice in the kiln. The second round of firing is said to provide added strength.
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.
Stop #3: Leather tannery
The Chouara Tannery 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!)
The souks (markets) of Fes
So, that’s what happened in our whirlwind–and unforgettable–24 hours.
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 Moroccan city.
Now, off to Chefchaouen: the Blue Pearl of Morocco!