Had been here in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and the medersa was closed - finally this year after 10 years of renovations this ancient and beautiful traditional Koranic school was available for visiting!
We had about half an hour to slowly take in the very ornate features before the guardian announced he was closing for lunch. Well worth visiting if youre roaming the streets of the old Fes medina.
Only 10 dirham entrance fee.
One of Morocco's most famed medersas - was unable to visit when first here 2003 and 2004 but after 10 years of renovations this old koranic school is now open for all to see the fine arts and traditional designs that Moorish style is so admired for.
Squeezed in the narrow streets of the medina, these Islamic schools risk to pass unnoticed.
Fortunately you ARE with a local guide that will call your attention. The negative point is that you are not allowed to enter in most of them, becoming restricted to a quick external look.
A pity, but we have to respect their religious rules.
Walking along the medina, you may pass without noticing by some historical buildings and places, hidden behind the displays of the sellers, or in the dark of the narrow streets.
Fountains, palaces, and medersas worth a look.
The sad thing is that non-Muslims must stay out of the religious buildings and only peeping from the doors you may have an idea of the interiors.
In Fez I felt, for the first time, out of scale (it happened again, in opposite direction, 10 years later in Florida.
The Medina may seem so small as some medieval places we know in Europe, but plenty of life, in a seemingly impossible way. A maze that I can't describe - only seen and felt.
The fire consumed, some years ago, the central area of the Medina, which has been rebuilt respecting the proportions but not the look.
It's a pity. However, everything around looks the same, and the visit (always with a local guide) will justify your day. The modern part of town is also interesting, but the Medina is unique.
I've been in Fes twice, with almost 20 years separating the trips.
The visits to the medina were accompanied by different guides, obviously, but, curiously, when entering the leather tinting area, they both used the same joke: "Chanel n.5 perfume".
It's not a beautiful show, and it is a really awful smell, but it is real, and should be seen. There is progress: in our second visit the guide distributed each one a mint branchlet, that, placed under our noses, disguised a little the strong Chanel.
Agdal Garden is a prominent tourist attraction, located south of the Royal Palace. This amazing garden occupies a spacious area and houses the magnificent 12th century Tank of Health, huge orchards, a vast lagoon, as well as wondrful small pools.
Located in the southern Fes, one of the most beautiful fountains in Morocco, visitors will discover a Stunning fountain constructed in a circular design. The fountain is breath-taking and one of the key landmarks of Fes.
Located straight across the street from the Bou Inania Medersa, the water clock is a really outstanding and unique attraction. The clock accurately represents the ancient water clocks of our world and the mystery that surrounds the geniuses who constructed them.
Dar Batha Palace is a prominent city landmark and one of the main tourist attractions in the region. Located near the Dar el-Batha Museum, this amazing attraction consists of a luxurious palace, gorgeous gardens, as well as a museum dedicated to Moroccan arts and traditions.
Is situated in the beginning of Talaa Kbira Street, near the fine Medersa Bou Inania. This pleasant café is located in a 250-year-old courtyard house. The café provides traditional Moroccan cooking, delicious drinks, as well as the local Bohemian experience.
Fes is the third largest city in Morocco and has a population of just over one million people. It is divided into 3 sections one of which is Fes el Bali - the old walled city. The medina of Fes el Bali is the larger of the two medinas in Fes and has been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It is thought to be the world's largest car free zone.
There are places of business ranging from the smallest stall to large emporiums. You can buy anything and everything here. You can also easily get lost!
There are maps available and the main routes are signed by coloured signs. There are also local guides who can show you particular things of interest like the famous Medresa Bou Inania, Nejjarine Caravanserrai (now a Wood and Craft museum) and Karauine Mosque (unless you are Muslim you can only look in through the gate).
There are two forms of art related to pottery in Morocco - the beautifully designed pottery bowls, plates and vases and the ceramic tile work.
Pottery pieces with traditional interwoven designs in blue and white are now displayed next to pieces with modern designs and many bright colours.
The tile work is known as killij and intricate patterns are made up from multitudes of different coloured tiles. There are many traditional designs with names like 'Fifty points inside eight' and 'Spiders house' given some imagination and the many coloured tiles available the variations are limitless. Fine examples of the art are to be found throughout Morocco in both ancient and modern edifices.
A visit to a ceramics factory shows you the process from the preparation of the clay, the throwing of the pot, firing, glazing and decorating and firing again. You can also watch the tiles being cut by hand to achieve the desired shapes and being placed coloured side down in intricate patterns to transform into backings for fountains or table tops.
The tannery in the medina in Fes is said to be the oldest in the world. They have been treating hides to produce soft leather for years.
A visit to the tannery is not for those with a delicate sense of smell. The smells coming from the treating and dying vats can be quite overpowering especially on a hot day. You are provided with a sprig of rosemary or mint to help . Luckily our viewing station was up wind of the vats.
That being said, it is amazing to learn how the hides were treated in days gone by and that the same method is still used today (with some minor alterations).
There is of course the included visit to the showroom but you are under no obligation to buy.
The website below gives details of the tanning process if you are interested.
The Nejjarine Foundouk, or the 'Inn of the Carpenters', was built in the 12th century. It was one of the largest places of accommodation in the world at the time and could house over 100 traders. Fes had become a centre for trade and commerce and the foundouk was designed with that in mind. The entrance was large enough to admit a camel or horse and rider. The foundouk's role eventually merged with that of a caravanserai, accommodating traveling merchants who would stay upstairs and keep their animals and sell their wares downstairs.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was used solely to house pack animals. Recently it was converted to accommodation again - this time for students at the nearby Karauine University.
The Nejjarine Foundouk has been beautifully restored as a Woodwork and Craft museum and its three levels now house exhibits. The building has a large central courtyard. The first two levels feature massive cedar posts and beams while the top floor verandah is decorated with a latticework railing and detailoed carving. Two enormous sets of scales are on dispay in the courtyard - reflecting the original use of the building.
The museum information is only given in French and Arabic but it is the building that is worth the visit.