Our drive from Rabat to Fes was about 5 hours.  We stopped about halfway along for drinks and to visit a local souk (market).

Fes is the second largest city (after Casablanca) in Morocco.  It was founded in the 8th-9th centuries.  During the 11th century, the city gained a reputation for the religious scholarship and the mercantile activity.  Fes reached its zenith 13-15th century, regaining the status as the capital. Numerous madrasas (Arabic educational institution), mosques, zawiyas (Islamic religious schools) and city gates were constructed which survived up until today. These buildings are considered the hallmarks of Moorish and Moroccan architectural styles. During this time, the Jewish population of the city grew as well, with the Jewish quarter attracting the Jewish migrants from other North African regions. After the overthrow of the Marinid dynasty, the city largely declined and was replaced by Marrakesh for political and cultural influence.

The medina of Fes is listed as a World Heritage Site and is believed to be one of the world’s largest urban pedestrian zones.  It has the University of Al Quaraouiyine which was founded in 859 and is the oldest continuously functioning university in the world. It also has Chouara Tannery from the 11th century, one of the oldest tanneries in the world.

In Fes we are again staying in a lovely Riad.  In the afternoon we experienced a traditional Moroccan hammam, a public steam bath, similar to a Turkish bath.  The hammam are a central part of daily and religious life in Morocco.  It consists of public bath house separated between men and women with multiple dry or steamed rooms and attendants who scrub visitors with a black pigmented soap using cloth mitts that feel like sandpaper.  It was an experience!!

We had a day-long tour of the city – part by bus but most by walking.  We began at the Royal Palace and then entered the old Jewish quarter.

We traveled out of the city walls to visit a kasbah (fort) where we had a good view of the city.

We stopped at a pottery production area where they explained the making of Fes pottery.  The steady hands of those decorating the pottery and of those cutting the very small pieces to make mosaics were impressive.

We returned to the city and entered the medina.  Fascinating!

We visited the well-known tanneries.

We visited a weaving shop.  And ended our tour at the Blue Gate.

In the evening we split into small groups and were hosted by local families.  Ron and I went to different homes.  The two of us went to the roof of our Riad for one last view over the city at night.

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