Medina of Fez (Fes el-Bali)
Fez’s traffic-free medina overflows with crumbled houses, carved doorways, and riad palaces coexisting with mosques, tombs, tanneries, and innumerable leather, spice, and ceramics shops. Hidden inside are highlights such as Kairaouine Mosque university—considered the world’s oldest—and the beautiful Bou Inania and Al-Attarine madrasas (Islamic schools). Navigating the medina is difficult, making an organized tour the ideal choice for first-time visitors.
A medina guide can give you the lowdown on top sights, offer advice on wares for sale, and help with haggling. Other options include Fez ramparts tours, wider excursions that stop by the medina along with landmarks like the Royal Palace, and ingredient-shopping at the souks for a cooking class.
Things to know before you go
- Don’t forget to haggle—vendors expect it.
- The medina’s lanes are unsuitable for wheelchairs and strollers.
- Visitors of all genders should cover their shoulders and legs out of respect for local custom.
How to get there
Most visitors enter the medina through the Blue Gate (Bab Bou Jeloud), which leads onto one of the medina’s main arteries, the shop-lined Talaa Kebira. The easiest way to get there is by taxi, which you’ll find at all the gates. Alternatively, public buses run to various gates and entry points, including Place Batha, Bab Guissa, and Bab Sidi Bou Jida.
When to get there
The medina is open daily, although most souks close on Fridays. Go at dusk, or in the morning before the crowds and heat intensify. Shops usually close at about 9:30pm, but it’s best to leave the medina before then, as it can be easy to get lost after dark.
The Tanneries of the Medina of Fez
Don’t miss Derb Chouara, the street of tanneries, where animal hides are processed into soft leather. To view the tanneries, walk through the leather shops to their rear balconies, and gaze over lines of circular stone vats filled with indigo, orange, and red liquid—the dyes used to color the leather.
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- Al-Attarine Madrasa
- Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts (Musée Nejjarine)
- Nejjarine Square (Place Nejjarine)
- 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