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Rating 1.2 (178 votes)

Fes el-Bali Medina

Listed under Markets in Fes, Morocco.

  • Photo of Fes el-Bali Medina
  • Photo of Fes el-Bali Medina
Photo of Fes el-Bali Medina
Photo by flickr user dominikgolenia
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Fes el-Bali is one of the largest working medieval cities in the world, 9,000 lanes of bazaars, workshops, tanneries, fruit and spice stalls and people’s homes. Some of the alley ways are far too narrow for anything wider than a laden donkey to pass through, and there’s few places a car could pass – assuming there where any. Every neighbourhood within the old city includes the same five buildings: a bakery, a café, a mosque, a public bath and an Islamic school.

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

Other expert and press reviews

“Mazingest, Crumblingest and All-Around-Coolest Medina in Morcocco”

The largest car-free urban zone in the world, the Fez medina is 9,000 tangling alleyways of Fassi history and Moroccan modernity. Continually inhabited for 1200 years, falling-down buildings are studded with satellite dishes. Narrow lanes veer, turn and … Read more...

Written by  Lauren Quinn. Read More on Lonely Girl Travels

“Medina of Fez”

'Founded in the 9th century and home to the oldest university in the world, Fez reached its height in the 13th–14th centuries under the Marinids, when it replaced Marrakesh as the capital of the kingdom. The urban fabric and the principal monuments in t… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO

“It's a kind of magic”

By Tahir Shah for The Guardian. First published Saturday October 11th, 2008. ...Visitors to other Moroccan cities like Marrakech, snatch up bargains without realising that many of the wares on offer are actually created within the old city walls of Fes… Read more...

Written by press. See the full article in The Guardian, 11 October 2008

“Fez: Marrakesh without the crowds”

By Stanley Stewart for The Sunday Times. First published November 9, 2008. There was a moment in the old medina in Fez, not far from the great gate known as the Bab Bou Jeloud, when three worlds seemed to collide - God, commerce and the Wolseley, in Pi… Read more...

Written by press. See the full article in The Sunday Times, 9th November 2008

“Fès is the next stop on the Marrakech express”

By Dan Hipgrave for The Independent. First published 14th December 2008. ...Fès's ninth-century medina is the finest showcase of architecture in North Africa. It's the largest, most intact medieval city in the Arab world, recently declared a Unesco wor… Read more...

Written by press. See the full article in The Independent, 14th December 2008

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Get lost in the passageways that started forming here in the 9th Century. The people living in the medina are living a totally different way of life from anywhere else in traditional open-courtyard style houses cum shops where artisans create their wares. One of the world's oldest universities is within the walls, which brim with highly decorative fountains and interesting architecture. And lots of carpet shops. Be prepared for some hard selling techniques.

Fez Medina

Fez's market heart hasn't changed it layout much since medieval times, still a maze of narrow passageways and houses full of merchants vying to sell you carpets, pots, dates, fish, leather and other local arts and handicrafts. Cars can't fit between the houses so the medina hasn't been able to embrace all the extra speed, danger and noise motorised traffic can add to a busy place – and even if a car could fit between the buildings there would never be enough space to turn around in this magically unplanned maze. Small and large pottery, tanning and carpet making factories run in much the same way they always have, meaning with no health and safety regulations and lots of authentic dirt and smells.

You will find the modern seepage of globalised tourism in some of the 'Made in China' tat that Morocco is now wealthy enough to import, but the more traditional crafts and trades survive in the market's huge meandering heart.

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