Abu Said Uthman II completed the Al-Attarine Madrasa in 1325 and it takes its name, which means “Madrasa of the Perfumers,” from its location by a historic souk selling perfume and spices. It was a religious high school for high-achieving (all-male) students, many of whom went on to study at neighboring Kairaouine University, founded in 859 AD. Many Fez medina walking tours include a visit to this serenely beautiful space, the perfect contrast to the hubbub of the narrow streets outside.
Things to know before you go
- There is a moderate admission charge to visit the madrasa, payable in cash on arrival.
- Parents of young children will find the narrow, sometimes steep alleys of Fez medina easier with a back carrier than a stroller.
- Narrow, hilly, crowded streets make Fez medina a very challenging destination for travelers who use wheelchairs: It’s best to arrange a specialist tour or guide. There is no elevator access to the upper stories of Al-Attarine Madrasa.
How to get there
The Al-Attarine Madrasa sits in the heart of Fez’s medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, next to the Kairaouine Mosque. Bus 10 runs to Bab Guissa gate from the train station and the madrasa is about a 10-minute walk south.
When to get there
The madrasa is open from morning until late afternoon, seven days a week. It’s best to visit Fez medina on a day that’s not Friday as many shops close for prayers from lunchtime onwards.
Don’t-Miss Historic Buildings in Fez
Founded in 808 AD, Fez offers a wealth of architectural treats. While only Muslims can enter the Kairaouine Mosque, its green-tiled roofs and towering minaret stand proud above the medina. More accessible highlights include the Bou Inania Medersa, a 14th-century Islamic college with gorgeous zellige tilework, the Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts, housed in an 18th-century trading inn, and the Chouara Tannery, where leatherworkers ply their smelly trade in almost medieval conditions.
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- Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts (Musée Nejjarine)
- Nejjarine Square (Place Nejjarine)
- Medina of Fez (Fes el-Bali)
- Bab Bou Jeloud (Bab Boujeloud)
- Dar Batha Museum
- Zaouia Moulay Idriss II
- Fez Mellah (Jewish Quarter)
- Royal Palace of Fez (Fes Dar el-Makhzen)
- Kairaouine Mosque (Mosque of al-Qarawiyyin)
- Moulay Idriss