Fes Travel Guide

Founded in 789 AD between imposing mountains, Fes used to be Morocco’s capital for over 400 years. It is the country’s third biggest city and its principal spiritual and cultural center, boasting the oldest university on the globe. Fes is also the world’s largest medieval city which has remained almost unchanged, and it is the activity in this part of the city that makes Fes one of Morocco’s major tourist destinations.

The core of Morocco and the oldest of the four imperial cities, Fes is divided into three sections; Fes el-Bali (the ancient, walled town), Fes-Jdid (the new town) and the Ville Nouvelle (the newest part of Fes, created by the French). The Medina of Fes el-Bali houses numerous paramount landmarks, such as palaces, mosques, residences and fountains, and is regarded as the world’s largest urban pedestrianized region and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The old city of Fes features almost 10,000 lanes and alleyways which form a gigantic maze that is surrounded by walls and stunning gates. Except for the more modern French-created Ville Nouvelle, the amazing city of Fes lets visitors step back into the Middle Ages and fascinate all and sundry with its exceptional atmosphere that can’t be found elsewhere.


The Medina of* Fes* el-Bali: considered to be the world’s most intact, active Islamic medieval city, this pedestrian-only area is surrounded by walls and gates and categorized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Karaouine Mosque: located in the middle of the Medina, this giant mosque is enclosed by various Islamic schools (madrasas) and has been a focal point of Islamic education for over 1,000 years.

Tanneries: one of the city’s major highlights is the malodorous tanners’ quarter where Morocco’s famous high-class soft leather is produced. Visitors should have a strong stomach as pigeon and guano droppings are used during the process of curing.

City gates: various gates grant access to the historical town of Fes; Bab Er Rsif is the principal gate, Bab Bou Jeloud is the main entrance for visitors, Bab Guissa is placed near the Merenid graves and Bab el-Ftouh leads to the burial grounds.

Zaouia Moulay Idriss II: one of Fes’ holiest landmarks, this shrine contains the remains of the city’s founder, Moulay Idriss II.

Sacred Music Festival: this international event is a festivity of music and Islam featuring an endless selection of diverse tunes from all over the globe.