Fez: Founded in 789 by Idriss I, descendant of the prophet Muhammad and founder of the kingdom, Fez quickly became the capital of Morocco. In the 9th century, Sultan Idriss II welcomed, in turn, many Andalusian, Jewish and Kairouan families, which benefited Fez and became the cultural and religious center of Morocco. In 1069, the Almoravids seized Fez after 6 years of siege. The city loses its status as capital in favor of Marrakech. However, Fez continues to shine on the cultural and artistic level. In the 12th century, it was the Almohads who seized the city. At that time, Fez was a real commercial crossroads between Spain, the Maghreb and the Sahara. The city continues to prosper. In the 13th century, the weakening of the Almohads benefited the Merinids. This new dynasty made Fez its capital in 1250. The heyday of the city begins. The Mérinides want to give Fez a new dimension. They begin the construction of a city within the city: the incredible Fez el Jedid comprising the royal palace, gardens, baths, mosques and barracks, all protected by an enclosure. The medersas, Koranic schools, make the prestige of Fez because they train the religious, intellectual and political elites. The golden age of Fez is also a period when international trade is flourishing. Trade with Portugal and England, but also India and the Middle East, is increasing. From the 15th century, Fez will experience a certain decline with the end of the Merinids. In 1549, the Saadians seized Fez but preferred Marrakech, conquered 25 years earlier. The fall of the city accelerated in the 17th century between plague, famines and civil wars. The wheel turns in 1666 when the first ruler of the Alaouite dynasty made Fez his capital. Trade is restored and the city is repopulated. In the 18th century, Fez shines again on the religious and intellectual levels, in particular thanks to the famous and powerful university of Qaraouiyne, the oldest in the world. In the 19th century, Hassan I began to modernize the city. But it was not until 1912, the date of the act of the protectorate of Fez, for the modern city to really develop. Shortly after, Fez lost its status as capital in favor of Rabat. In 1980, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Medina :
Discovering the medina is quite an adventure in itself because it is not revealed to people in a hurry. You have to learn to appreciate this place, to understand its codes, to let yourself be carried away by the cries, the smells, the heat which emanate from all the stalls. You have to be prepared for the unexpected. The medina of Fez is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is, in fact, home to the oldest university in the Muslim world. The main sites of the medina to visit date from the 13th and 15th century and they are the madrasah, the palace, the mosques and the fountains. The city of Fez is divided into 2 parts Fes Jdid and Fes El Bali (old Fez).
The Dar Batha Palace and Museum:
The palace was built by Hassan I because he ardently wanted to unite the two cities that make up Fez, namely Fès-el-Bali and Fès-el-Djedid. This palace was then transformed into a museum of crafts where you can discover pottery and ceramics from the 13th century but also embroidery, medieval jewelry, richly decorated portals and the huge padlocks that close the doors for the night. .
Fez el Jedid:
Is a city in its own right stuck to the north of Fez el Bali, the ancient city. It was built in the 13th century by the Merinid dynasty who wanted to give the city a new dimension. And what a dimension! The objective of the Merinids is to build a fortified administrative city comprising mosques, barracks, markets, dwellings and a royal palace to house the princes of the new dynasty. The Dar el Makhzen or royal palace alone spans nearly 80 hectares! A visit to Fez el Jedid is a must-see in Fez, as the walk only lasts 1 or 2 hours. A short comment is in order to convince you of the interest of the place. We advise you to take the immense Alaouites square as a starting point.
This is a category apart in the souks, leather tanners leave no one indifferent, especially because of the incredible smell that emanates from their workshop. For those who are not used to it, this smell can be pestilential. But when you leave the workshop, you will be offered a mint drink to (slightly) mask the smell. A difficult profession that must be discovered in order to understand.
Dar el Makhzen or The royal palace:
Literally spans an incredible area. It is the oldest palace in Morocco and surely the most important. Erected in the 14th century, it is called Dar El Makhzen. With its 80 hectares, it was built outside the old medina, it is now located near the Jewish quarter and the Mellah. Although visits are not allowed, you have to go there to discover its gigantic esplanade where you can discover large bronze doors that are framed with ceramic tiles. There are 7 doors like so many days in the week. It includes a mosque, a madrasah and a plaza, the huge gardens of Lalla Minna. However, we can admire the superb portal harmoniously mixing the green of the tiles and the blue of the ceramics of Fez.
In the shadow of the palace is the old mellah (old Jewish quarter) probably founded in the 16th century. This neighborhood is sure to be one of the highlights of your visit. The main artery is the Grande rue des Mérinides. One of the nicest houses on the street is the House of the Chief Rabbi. You can also visit the superb Danan Synagogue. Built in the 17th century, this major place of prayer in the city is worth a detour, especially since admission is free. Continue on rue des Mérinides and cross the jewelers’ souk.
Bab Smarine gate:
The real entrance to Fez el Jedid. Admire the various vaults of this immense door then enter the Grande Rue de Fès el Jedid. Bordered by lively souks, this street will lead you to the Jama el Hamra and Jama el Beïda mosques. At the end of the street stands the colossal Bab Dakene gate. We can extend to the old mechouar to admire this old weapon square.
Medersa Bou Inania of Fez _ Koranic school:
The Medersa Bou ‘Inania is a medersa built between 1350 and 1355 by Sultan Abu‘ Inan Faris, under the Merinid dynasty. It is the only medersa in the city with that of the Seffarin to have a minaret, and it also adjoins shops allowing its financing, as well as large latrines, which testify to its public character. Indeed, the Madrasah functioned as well as a school as a Friday mosque. This madrasah is open to non-Muslims, like most medieval madrasahs in Morocco, such as its namesake in Meknes, or the Ben Youssef madrasah in Marrakech, or those of Al ‘Attarin or As Saffarin in Fez.
Medersa Attarine of Fez:
The Attarine Madrasah is a former Koranic school in Fez. This madrasah was built between 1323 and 1325 by the Marinid sultan Abu Said Othman. It was named after the adjoining perfume and spice souk: the souk el-Attarine. It is located near the Quaraouiyine.
The Karaouiyne mosque:
This university, the oldest in the Arab world, was founded in 859. Even though entry is prohibited to non-Muslims, it remains today a spiritual mecca. Discover its exteriors and the details that adorn its walls, its 270 columns and its 24 doors that surround an interior courtyard.
The mausoleum of Moulay Idriss II:
The mausoleum of Moulay Idriss II is the 2nd sacred site in all of Morocco. It is closed to non-Muslims. Moulay Idriss II was the founder of the city of Fez. It is a zaouïa located in the heart of the Fez el-Bali district, the oldest district of Fez. The mausoleum is dedicated to Emir Idris II and houses his tomb. It is considered, along with the Quaraouiyine mosque, to be the most famous and most visited monument in the city.
In this place are found many craftsmen who work with copper in order to make teapots, trays, ……… others, boilermakers are established to make pots, buckets and containers. A craft not to be missed.
The Nejjarine fountain:
Fez has a magnificent fountain called the Nejjarine fountain which is located near the carpenters’ souk and which dates from the 18th century. To see for the richness of its mosaics!
Moulay Driss Zerhoun:
Is a holy city that hosts the mausoleum of Idriss I, founder of Morocco with its Zaouia, a place of pilgrimage for many Muslims, during their annual summer Mussen, the most important in Morocco. Its founder Idriss, grandson of Mohammed, fled Baghdad in 786 and settled in nearby Volubilis, from where he founded this city to begin the Islamization of the Berbers of Morocco. It is 30 km from Meknes, located at an altitude of 550 meters, under the Jebel Zerhoun. Capital of the province in the prefecture of Meknes, it has been declared a cultural property by UNESCO. Its white farms stretch across the mountain. The Sanctuary of Idris I is the main attraction of the city. It was built by Moulay Ismail in the 18th century and restored by Sultan Moulay Abderrahmane in the 19th century and in the 20th century by Mohamed V and Hassan II. It is forbidden to non-Muslims and has a cylindrical minaret, unique in Morocco, with ceramic decorations that reproduce verses from the Koran. Its interior is richly decorated with stained glass tiles and polychrome mosaics. The patio has columns of different styles and the burial chamber is decorated in its lower part with rosettes and polychrome tiles.
The village of Moulay Yacoub, located 25 km from the imperial city of Fez in a preserved natural setting, is an inviting place to relax. The unusual landscapes of the Middle Atlas, with its clayey hills with a lunar aspect, make you want to take long meditative walks, alone, with your partner or with the family. Moulay Yacoub, however, owes its reputation above all to the virtues of the thermal water springing up near the village. Its water is an integral part of Moroccan culture and no less than a million visitors each year go to the traditional thermal baths to enjoy the soothing, purifying and remineralizing benefits of this almost miraculous water. A highlight in Moulay Yacoub is the tomb of Saint Lalla Chafia, the virgin healer and daughter of Moulay Yacoub, buried at the top of the mountain. Lalla Chafia is the object of particular devotion on the part of women experiencing fertility problems. This tomb still attracts many pilgrims and curious people today. The village of Moulay Yacoub is often associated with the sultan Abou Yacoub Ben Youssef who lived in the year 591 of the Hegira, and was according to tradition, instantly cured by the water of this source of the ancient wounds that he bore to the legs. Finally, let us evoke the Moulay Yacoub Guerrab known as “the water carrier” a Muslim stake who would have stopped one evening, 800 years ago, near the source to say a prayer. A wound on his leg began to bleed and the water carrier recognized it as a trait of Allah’s mercy. He delayed his entry into Fez for a few days, stationed near the source and found himself cured. He was then able to resume his way to Mecca, miraculously cleared of his wound.
Located 12 km from Fez on the road to Taza, Sidi Harazem has been a spa town famous for several centuries for its bicarbonate magnesian water source, little mineralized. It is also one of the best-known mineral water brands in the country. The source of Sidi Harazem has been known since the time of Leon the African, a 16th century Arab geographer. Its mineral water rich in calcium is renowned for its healing properties for liver and kidney diseases. The spring attracts tens of thousands of visitors throughout the year. With thermal springs recognized nationally and internationally. The thermal water is the main attraction for tourists in this area.
Immozer El Kandar:
Imouzzer Kandar or Imouzzer du Kandar, built in 1812, its privileged location allowed the curious underground dwellings dug by the tribe of Ait Serhouchene, to dominate the plain of Saïss, It is located in the region of Fez-Meknes in the Middle Atlas. This locality is known for producing a natural mineral water with low sodium content, bottled in Immouzer, under the brand “aïn Soltane”. Also known as the Pearl of the Atlas, Immouzer Kandar with its cascading waterfalls surrounded by mountain ranges. For nature lovers, make a stopover: green nature, sublimated by its sometimes hundred-year-old pine trees, and calm are, in fact, the masters of this small town in the Middle Atlas, culminating at more than 1,400 meters in altitude.
Is located 80 kilometers from Fez, in the Middle Atlas. It is a small town surrounded by mountains 1650 meters above sea level. It was built in 1930, with a European style and a pleasant atmosphere all year round, ideal for breathing clean air.
Its construction by the French, begun in 1929 as a seaside resort, was inspired by Alpine architecture. It has a grand Royal Palace, Al Akhawayn University, a military school and many luxury villas which are dotted around the city with well-kept trees and alleys. It is a city of entertainment for summer and winter sports. In the center stands out a lake surrounded by forests, next to which you can contemplate the Lion of Ifrane, a stone sculpture.
Ifrane National Park:
An impressive cedar forest, a natural monument and the largest in Morocco. It covers all the surroundings of Ifrane and Azrou, at an altitude of 1,500 – 2,000 meters. Its forest of more than 50,000 hectares, the largest reserve of cedars in Morocco and the world, is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Incredible cedars over 100 years old, grandiose walnut trees and towering holm oaks obscure the road and give it a mysterious air. Visit the Lakes of Dayet Asaua, Dayet Ifrah, Valley of the Rocks, Virgin Falls and Jbel Hebri Peak, next to Michlifen Winter Resort. Wildlife abounds: monkeys, wild boars, hares and partridges. Trout fishing.
There is a circuit of the lakes, taking the road to Fez, taking a deviation 16 km to Dayet Aoua, an ideal place to eat and observe birds. Continuing on the local road between pines and oaks towards Dayet Ifrah, one can admire a beautiful landscape little visited. On the way back to Ifrane, via road 707, you can admire the Valley of the Rocks made up of large rock formations.
Ski resort at 2,036 meters above sea level, 17 km. This area is a plain dotted with forests and stones composing strange shapes. The station offers various services. Next to it there is Jebel Hebri station, 2,014 meters above sea level and 22 km away. It is accessible from Azrou by the road to Midelt.
Zaouia de Ifrane:
Located 5 km from Ifrane and the region’s first settlement with remains of primitive Hebrew tribes and a shrine to its founder, the much revered Sidi Abdesselam.
8 km towards Azrou, we find the women of this region making natural Chamomile oil. Its water is very popular and bottled under the name of Eau de Benismim.
17 km, N-8 southbound, mountain town of about 50,000 inhabitants. It is located at an important crossroads connecting the region with the desert, via the road to Midelt, Er Rachidia, Erfoud, Merzouga and Marrakech at 400 km by the road from Khenifra, Beni Mellal and near the imperial cities of Fez, Meknes to 80 km.