Exotic, varied and intriguing – a walk through the old town of Fes has something for everyone and more alleyways than you can imagine (Melbourne you have serious competition). It definitely helps to have a guide. Relax and enjoy the friendly people who are so proud to talk about their heritage and specific handicraft skills. Of course they would also like to sell you something – but I’ve see much pushier.
I did succumb to two jackets – one in soft leather, the other in soft suede. It’s bound to be cold once I get to London so very useful!!
Some of the beautiful buildings and gates in Fes
Things you see in the markets in Fes – the tannery, dates, pastry for pastille and rose petals
Best price of the day. Can I show you a carpet and give you a mint tea? We have Fes style, Berber style or middle and high Atlas style. Something for everyone. Did I mention – best price?
At one time there were well over 15000 Jews living in Fes – many of them Sephardic (my background) who came over from Spain and were warmly welcomed by the Moroccans. Nowadays there are only about 50/60 left as many were encouraged to move to Israel after WWII.
Enjoyed the opportunity to see the quarter and the synagogue which was restored in 1999. The bottom right hand side is the Jewish cemetary.
The well preserved old synagogue in Fes
A day in Fes involves seeing the local handicrafts in action. One of the conditions of the UNESCO heritage status that Fes enjoys is that local handicrafts traditions are maintained. Here are the clay workers doing their thing on manually controlled wheels and with free hand painting. These skills are usually handed down from generation to generation.
The ceramic makers at work
Finished mosaics are spectacular
For those who have never stayed in a Riad, it is truly an “Alice in Wonderland” experience. Your car drops you outside a narrow alleyway with very high walls, points you in a direction and promises that your bags will make it to your accommodation. You grab your hand luggage and plunge into a maze of alleyways – luckily we had our guide to show the way – and then after passing nondescript doors you turn up at one that is where you will be staying. It looks tiny and then it opens and the whole world changes.
Behind those closed tiny doors can lie some beautiful and welcoming buildings and rooms and a lot of space you just don’t expect to see. Many Riads have rooftop bars to enjoy the setting sun or breakfast and the call of the muezzin and a variety if interlocking courtyards with stairs running up and down in all directions. It took us a while to orient ourselves and the best way to do this is to just plunge in and wander around until you eventually find your way back to where you started. In Riad Fes (
thanks for a great recommendation Leon) there are five interlocking houses for guests and the decoration and public areas are stunning. Hope you enjoy these photos of our secret world.
Interior design at Riad Fes