Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Fez Travel Guide: Best Things to Do and See in Fez

This is your Fez travel guide to a cultural gathering of centuries old inherited Arab nobility, Andalusian sophistication, Jewish business flair and Berber perseverance. The listed UNESCO World Heritage city is an open-air museum of a world that existed 1200 years ago. Titled Athens of Africa, Fez was founded in 789CE by Idriss I and announced the country’s capital in 809CE by Idriss II.

This world heritage piece of art is home to a selection of the world’s oldest buildings (185 of the 10572 listed buildings of historical interest) among which is the World’s Oldest University: Al Quaraouiyine. Ever since its foundation, Fez, together with the different waves of people who made home of the city, has maintained its splendour over the centuries without losing an ounce of heritage.

From the magnificent palaces swallowed by the intricate gigantic walls of the old medina to the centuries old madrasas home to some of the greatest sages of the city’s Golden Age, Fez is a spiritual getaway to enter a state of reverie. For those with an admiration of art and culture, explore this guide to the best things to do and see in Fez.

Fez Travel Guide: Madrasas

The term madrasa refers to a type of institutions originated around the early 11th century in Iran and was brought to Morocco by the Marinids. In such type of institutions, the main focus of education is Islamic Law and Jurisprudence. Muslims took great pride in their religion as well as the continuity of the message and guidance, which Allah revealed to all prophets. Likewise, children received their Islamic education from madrasas under the supervision of their tutors.

These madrasas are famous for their intricate architecture and traditional tile work (locally known as Zellij). In the light of that, Fez is known to be a hub of learning and the most prestigious centre of education in the Islamic World. One the best things to do and see in Fez is without a doubt exploring these madrasas as they represent a significant footprint of Islamic history.

The city is home to the world’s oldest existing degree-granting university, Al-Quaraouiyine, and numerous madrasas of which we will see Seffarine Madrasa, Bou Inania Ledrasa and Attarine Madrasa.

Al Quaraouiyine University

Founded in 859CE by Fatima Al Fihria, Al-Quaraouiyine university is the beating heart of Fez encompassing a library of more than 400,000 books. It is regarded the world’s oldest degree-granting university according to the UNESCO and the Guinness World Records.

Located in breath taking building in the heart of Fez, the university’s zellij-adorned getaway and intricate carvings are not to be missed out. Education at Al Quaraouiyine University is primarily literary focusing on Islamic law, legal sciences, history, and Classic Arabic. Many renowned scholars, including Ibn Khaldun and Ibn al-Arabi, have studied or taught at Al Quaraouiyine.

The Seffarine Madrasa

Located on the Seffarine Square near Oued Fes, a river watered by some sixty springs, south of Al-Quaraouiyine Mosque, the Seffarine madrasa is the first of madrasas to ever built in Fez. It was founded in 1271CE by the Marinid Sultan Abu Yaaqub Yusuf and built with an outstanding décor and a traditional 1280 Marinid architecture style with carved cedar wood, high ceilings and traditional zellij.

Bou Inania Madrasa

Bou Inania madrasa is one of the most famous and ancient madrasas in Fez founded between 1350CE and 1357CE during the rule of the Marinid Sultan Abou Inan Faris in Morocco. Exploring a piece of history such as this when coming to Fez must be on your Moroccan bucket list.

The madrasa is most renowned for its remarkable architecture, distinguished from any other by its wealth of sculpted stuccowork and carved cedar wood. Following a prime example of Islamic architecture, the interior design with all its artistic zellij tile work, its rich onyx and marble décor all together celebrates a the beauty of Marinid designs.

El-Attarine Madrasa

El-Attarine Madrasa is one of the wonders of the city Fez. Built in 1325 during the Marinid dynasty, the madrasa, by instructions from Sultan Abou Said Uthman II, was constructed near Al-Attarin souk (that is a spice market) and named after it.

The madrasa follows the same Islamic architecture as the other only tempered with finely worked mosaics, sculpted marble and calligraphy (especially at the entrance portal). The madrasa layout, as the rest, features a central courtyard surrounded by dormetries and classrooms.

While you are at the enchanting madrasa, do not forget to check the Magana Bou Inania Clock!

Fez Travel Guide: Souks

With some more than 9400 narrow little streets and innumerable stalls, Fez is made of a labyrinth of Souks (traditional markets) each souk specializing in unique handicrafts that have been preserved for centuries.

Within the old medina’s major thoroughfares (Talaa El Kibira, Talaa Sghira, Ras Cherratine and Nejjarine, close to its main getaways Bab Boujloud, Bab Elguissa and Bab Ftouh) lie the medina’s numerous souks of which we will travel through Souk Attarine, Kissaria Serrajine, Souk El Henna, Souk Tillis, and Essefarine Square.

Souk Attarine: Colourful Spices

Souk Attarine or El-Attarine Market is one of the liveliest souks in the city. Located in the heart of the Medina near its main thoroughfares, the souk falls between numerous landmarks of the old medina including El-Attarine Madrasa and Bou Inania Madrasa.

What sets it from other souks in the old medina is the two monumental wooden doors at each end closed once evenings are drawn to an end. Souk Attarine is famous as a spice market. The souk’s bustling atmosphere and arrays of aromatic spices surely put you in an enticing ancient Moroccan life.

Kissariat Serrajine: Traditional Clothes

Immerse yourself in the full Fassi experince with Kissariat Serrajine. Ranging from irresistible materials of silks, Moroccan embroidered slippers to braided trimmings and traditional kaftans, Kissariat Serrajine is the perfect destination for those in search of authentic Moroccan traditional clothing items.

Souk El-Henna: Traditional Remedies

If it is the natural and organic Fassi cosmetic products you are after or the centuries old traditional remedies, Souk El-Henna is the place to go. It is one of the oldest souks in the old medina initially emerged near a hospital in the midst of the chaos of finding medicine to the sick. Now the souk provides all kinds of traditional remedies to beauty cosmetics, which people still use to this day.

Souk Tillis: Rugs

Souk Tillis is renowned for its vibrant rugs. Famous for its high quality materials usage, the souk produces some of the finest rugs made of the passionately hand-spun wool. Moroccan rugs are known for their intricate designs making the market worthy of visiting whether it is a curiosity you are feeding or a house you are furnishing.

Esseffarine Square: Copper Products

Souk Essefarine is famous for its coppersmiths. The square produces some of the finest brass and copper products including traditional Moroccan trays (s’iniya) and teapots (brad). Many artisans display their products as they craft materials in public. It is a sight for sore eyes to witness the birth of beautiful lamps, tea sets and a lot more in a world nearly driven by machines.

Fez Travel Guide: Museums and Mosques

One of the best things to do while you are in Fez is exploring its heritage and ingrained traditions. There is no better way to do this than visiting museums to guide you through your research and mosques that are loaded with a history of customs and teachings unmatched to any other.

Batha Palace

A revisited palace that is now a museum in the heart of the old medina, the beautiful 19th century palace is now known as Museum of Arts and Traditions preserving a rich selection of Fassi artworks ranging from traditional rugs, textiles, woodwork and a lot more. It is one of the best destinations to spare some time to visit and indulge in the history of this ancient city.

Nejjarine Museum

The Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts is located in a beautifully restored foundouk (caravanserai) with a rooftop terrace overlooking the old medina and those hillsides surrounding it. The museum celebrates woodwork and artisanship and displays a range of magnificently carved wooden doors and furniture.

Quaraouiyine Mosque

If you happen to be interested in learning about the history of the foundation of the city, Al-Quaraouiyine Mosque is the place to go and among the best things to do and see in Fez. Near the beautiful 859CE monument, Moulay Idriss Zaoui (Mausoleum) houses the tomb of Moulay Idriss II, the city’s founder. The mosque is famous for its striking architecture and the epitome of Islamic Learning.

Zaouia of Sidi Ahmed Tijani

The Zaouia of Sidi Ahmed Tijani in the old medina hosts the tomb of Sheikh Ahmed al-Tijani who is the founder of the Tijaniyya Sufi order. The building itself is very distinguishable from any other due to its ornamented facades and the minaret in turquoise colour. The site in general is a meeting point of Tijaniyya Sufi practices and teachings.

While you are there, you might notice groups of Senegal natives visiting the site and paying respect to the Zaouia. That is because the largest following among Senegalese population follow the Tijaniyya order. The Zaouia attracts a large group of visitors and pilgrims from Senegal and other African countries connecting by that Senegal to broader Sufi traditions in North and West Africa.

With an old medina this big and of this old ancient history, it is only natural to get lost in both theory and practice as to where to go, when to go and how to go to a certain place. To overcome this obstacle, we recommend you to consider hiring a tour guide in Fez, as well as checking the perfect lodgings you can opt for while you are here.

Leave a comment

About us

a group of Fez locals who love their city and are passionate about its unique culture, its long and rich history and want to share that with people from all over the world!

Contact us

© 2023 Fez Local Insider, All Rights Reserved. Powered by Howdy Code