Fès el-Bali

sights / Religious

Fès el-Bali information

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The medina of Fès el-Bari (Old Fès) is the largest living medieval city in the world. Its incredible maze of 9400 twisting alleys, blind turns and souqs are crammed with shops, restaurants, workshops, mosques, medersas (theological colleges), dye pits and tanneries. A riot of sights, sounds and smells, 21st-century Fès is groaning at its 9th-century seams.

Despite its designation as a World Heritage site, investment has been slow to follow. While the chic cafe-lined boulevards of the ville nouvelle provide a stark contrast, many young Fassis remain jobless, and the bright lights disguise the sad lot of the poorer people living on the periphery.

For the short-term visitor, Fès is terribly exotic and can be difficult to come to grips with. The medina can seem totally impenetrable. Though the amount of hassle is far less than it once was, the attention of unofficial guides, small boys, touts and shopkeepers can be intimidating for some. It is a veiled, self-contained city where life moves to centuries-old traditions - a city that doesn't easily bare its soul. With time, visitors begin to glimpse behind the anonymous walls and appreciate the rich culture and spirituality that is Fès.