We arrived at Fès in the early evening so there was a chance to walk
the main commercial street (Avenue Hassan II), which runs from
one end of the new town to the other. It is one of the
nicest places to stroll. The wide pedestrian walk, lined
with palm trees, is equipped with stone benches. It was nice
to stretch the legs. From our hotel balcony we could
easily see the Rif Mountains.
At breakfast we were offered the truffles we bought on the
road. They tasted sandy and were returned to the kitchen
for further cleaning. We had them again the next day, but
they tasted no better. Oh well!
After breakfast we were off to see the
Royal Palace (Dar el-Makhzen).
There is a palace in every large city. The main gate was
magnificent in brass. We were not allowed inside the
palace grounds so we walked to the medina.
medina area (the
largest in Africa) is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. The New Medina (Fès el-Jdid) is from the 14th century. The
Old Medina (Fès el-Bali) is from the 9th century, the
beginning of Islam in Morocco. About 500,000
live within the medina walls. Most of the day was spent
in both medinas. There are 9400 alleyways, 350 mosques and numerous
An interesting visit was made to an Islamic
theological boarding school (Medersa el-Attarine).
Students come from the rural area to receive a general education
plus theological studies. The central courtyard had
elegant stucco, zellij tile and cedar wood carving walls and
ceiling. In the center was a ablution pool We were able to speak with
some students and take their pictures.
As we walked down one alley there was a call for prayer and
following the people we saw the entrance to the Kairaouyine
Mosque, one of the largest in Morocco. It was founded in 859. Attached to the mosque is the Kairaouyine University
and library, one of the world's oldest (founded in 850) and
highly regarded center of Muslim learning.
We also learned the difference between "live" and
"dead" wool. The "live" wool is the
normal spring shearing. The "dead" wool is taken
from sheep before the slaughter for certain holidays.
We visited a carpet shop, a brass store, some souqs, and the
market. Some more
education - material for women's
dresses can cost $100 to $400. One alley had clothes being
dyed in big vats in front of the souq. The
tannery was very interesting. Still operated like it
was centuries ago.
There were numerous children (and some adults) carrying
dough to the local bakery since homes do not have
ovens. Each family probably consumes a couple loafs per
day. Each day the bread is baked fresh in a wood burning
stove. The bakeries charge ½ dirham (less than 5 cents)
per loaf to bake
That evening we were split into small groups of 4 or 5 and
picked up by a local family to eat dinner at their home.
Our family lived in a 5th floor apartment. The father came
to pick us up and paid for a taxi since we were a group of
5. The children all went to private school and were
learning English. Both parents spoke English OK. We
learned how to eat with our fingers, but still we used
utensils. All three children sleep in one bedroom.
At lest they had air-conditioning. We had a wonderful
--> Middle Atlas Mountains