6 reasons why Fes should be at the top of your travel list in Morocco
That's right, not Marrakech but Fes!
1. A 1100 year old Medina - Fes El-Bali
With a population of over a 150,000, tapered alleyways and the largest car free contiguous area for its population, you'll enjoy the most authentic Moroccan experience here!
2. The world's oldest university - Al Quaraouiyine
Fes is regarded as the cultural capital of Morocco and rightly so. As you walk through the medina and learn about its history, you'll realise how Fes has been at the crossroads of numerous cultures, lifestyles and cuisines over the last 1000 years. The world's oldest university is one such example of it's intellectual and academic heritage.
3. Food - If you haven't eaten Tagine, you haven't been to Morocco
From Lamb tagine slow cooked with a myriad of vegetables, to deep fried potato balls served with raw chilli paste, Fes's food is sure to tantalise all your senses! Because of its unique location and its rich heritage the cuisine here is both authentic and experimental. Add a cooking class on to your travel list and you'll have a bit of Morocco with you wherever you go!
4. People - Make a friend - or four!
It's the people that make this city so wonderful. We saw nothing but warm smiles throughout our stay. We had people come up to us and help negotiate with shop keepers expecting nothing in return. If you're ever in doubt of where you are or don't have a phone, just ask a local and you'll be sorted. We visited during the month of Ramadan and every time we were out on the streets after sunset, we were invited for a cup of tea or a meal without exception. We took the offer a few times and were pleasantly surprised by their hospitality.
Do you love leather goods? Then you will love Fes; apart from the fact that every third shop sells shoes/bags made of leather, Fes is also home for three tanneries; one of which, the largest and the oldest (around 1000 years), is located in the medina. They still process leather as in the medieval times and the products speak for themselves. (Tip: One of the steps in leather processing involves soaking the skins in pigeon poop, so the entire place has a strong smell to it - But they provide a fresh mint stalk as you enter and you'll be fine if you keep it close!)
Old Moroccan houses where large families used to live together. Plenty of these riads are now restored beyond their former glory to make the most beautiful guest homes. Make sure to stay at a Riad in the Medina and you will not regret it! We stayed at Dar Finn, a 700 year old Riad; its close proximity to the souks, panoramic views of medina from terrace, sumptuous breakfast and wonderful hospitality made our stay so much more enjoyable!
So, there you have it! 6 reasons to choose Fes first. If you have been to Fes and would like to add more reasons please leave a comment! If you haven't and are inspired to go, let me know of your plans and write to me for any tips, I'd be more than happy to help.