Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 Grand World Voyage, Day 201, Fez (Part 1 of 3)

Fes was founded in 859AD.  It is the spiritual capital of Morocco and a major destination for Muslims from around the world.  This morning we drove with our Guide Rashid, to Mount Zalagh, to see the merenid tombs and to see the views from the highest point of the city overlooking the Medina.  The Medina, a UNECO world heritage site is an extensive labyrinth of over 9000 streets.  Without the assistance of our Guide, we would have been lost for days in the maze of narrow streets.  We entered the Medina via the Blue gate to venture down into the real Morocco.  It is absolutely amazing what is tucked away behind doors in the  Medina.  Our walk took us through the Medina to the Bou Inani Medersa, a student residence.  The Medersa is one of the must see in places Fes.  You enter the exquisite marble courtyard through a domed entrance chamber.  From here, you can see across to the prayer hall, which is divided by a small canal. Off to each side of the courtyard are stairs to the upper story of by student dormitories.  This residence formerly housed students from the University of Al Qarawiyyin.  Our morning walking tour took us past the University of Al-Qarawiyyin known as the oldest university and degree-granting institution in the world.  We left the Medina, and went to the Mellah or Jewish Quarter.  Another place famed for its shopping as well as its history is the Jewish quarter of Fez.  Boasting different styles of architecture from that of the Medina, the Mellah is a great insight into the once vibrant history of Judaism in the city.  The Jewish quarter entrance is across the street from the Royal Palace, so before touring the Mellah, we made a quick stop for photos at the gates.  Next, we went to a pottery plant near Mount Zalagh to see Moroccan pottery being hand produced…wonderful craftsman...with a few purchases being made.  On our return to the Medina our first stop was the Caravan Seray.  This restored 18th century caravan is an old traders hotel and now houses the unique Nejjarine Wood Arts and Trades of Museum.  We spent another 4 hours exploring and having lunch in the souk.  The further down you go in the market, you see the colorful displays of traditional Moroccan products, it becomes almost like a live museum, with people hand crafting everything from shoes, plates to wooden tables.  The highlight for us was the tannery.  The tannery; with a strong smell and intriguing, colorful views, tells a story of the creation of everything from purses to shoes.  The area is an open air factory containing large cement vats of liquid for stripping and dying the hides.  It was fascinating to watch first hand this process being done.  We had an excellent day touring and a very good guide to show us Fes.  This is part 1 of a 3 part blog.




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