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Explore the Medina of Fez

Fes, Morocco


Added by Andreas Brokalakis

Explore this unique bustling historical city

A "medina" is typically called the historical district in many north African arabic cities. As such when traveling in Morocco, in most important cities, you will encounter a medina. The medina of Fez is one of the most important ones because of its historic and cultural significance, that led to its proclamation by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

The medina of Fez is a huge maze, full of old buildings and small alleys and buzzing with life from dawn to dusk. It includes residencies and numerous riads where one may stay, restaurants, small shops, but most significantly museums, temples and active traditional workshops of various crafts and even tanneries.

You may only walk in the medina, as the small alleys do not allow for car traffic. It is actually believed to be one of the largest pedestrian zones in the world. This does not mean that you wont encounter scooters or carts pulled by people or animals. The amount of people walking around the small alleys is amazing, as is their speed. So be prepared to walk in such conditions. What truly amazed me is that this human traffic, sounds, smells are so intense but the moment you stop in a cafe or enter a riad, it is as if you entered an oasis of calmness!

Inside the medina, it can often get complicated to orient yourself. Because of the proximity of the buildings, using your phone's GPS may or may not work. I would suggest to keep visual marks in your memory or take some photos that you can use to identify your route and retrace your path.

You should also be aware that all senses participate in your walkarounds in the medina. As all kinds of shops are present in the confined areas, you will be passing by shops with herbs or a butcher house, and therefore the smells can be very intense.

Visually, the medina of Fez is a feast. People of all sorts, artworks, old buildings of amazing architecture, colors, endless movement. Wear comfortable shoes and walk as much as you can. Apparently if you are into photography, the medina is an amazing place to be. However, my personal experience is that you should be careful as a lot of locals are not that comfortable to be photographed, so be respectful and only photograph if you are allowed or have consent.

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