City Orientation Walk, Fes

Labelled Morocco's cultural capital, the city of Fes is renowned for its old town – Fes El Bali walled medina – a colorful mix of medieval Marinid architecture, vibrant souks and charming, sometimes mysterious atmosphere. The latter is due to the presence of such unique sites as the 14th-century Bou Inania religious school boasting elaborate cedar carving and ornate tile decoration. To find this and other notable attractions of Fes, follow this orientation walk.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Morocco » Fes (See other walking tours in Fes)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Author: leticia
1
University and Mosque of al-Qarawiyyin

1) University and Mosque of al-Qarawiyyin (must see)

The University of al-Qarawiyyin or Al Quaraouiyine is the oldest existing, continually operating higher educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records and is occasionally referred to as the oldest university by scholars. It was founded by Fatima al-Fihri in 859 with an associated madrasa, which subsequently became one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the historic Muslim world.

The al-Qarawiyyin played a leading role in the cultural and academic relations between the Islamic world and Europe in the middle ages. The cartographer Mohammed al-Idrisi (d. 1166), whose maps aided European exploration in the Renaissance is said to have lived in Fes for some time, suggesting that he may have worked or studied at al-Qarawiyyin. The University has produced numerous scholars who have strongly influenced the intellectual and academic history of the Muslim and Jewish worlds.

Compared with the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul or the Jameh Mosque in Isfahan, the design of the mosque is austere. The columns and arches are plain white; the floors are covered in reed mats, not lush carpets. Yet the seemingly endless forest of arches creates a sense of infinite majesty and intimate privacy, while the simplicity of the design complements the finely decorated niches, pulpit and outer courtyard, with its superb tiles, plasterwork, woodcarvings and paintings.

Why You Should Visit:
Non-muslims can see the traditional courtyard with the washing area (only for men) and the prayer area. The mixture of indoor and outdoor space truly makes the place amazing.

Tip:
In exchange for a little tip, the Muslim guardians can take your camera/phone and walk inside the mosque taking random photos, which can give you a feeling of what you're missing.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Zaouia de Moulay Idriss II

2) Zaouia de Moulay Idriss II (must see)

The Zaouia Moulay Idriss II is a "zaouia" (a shrine and religious complex; also spelled "zawiya") dedicated to and containing the tomb of Idris II, who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828 and is considered the main founder of the city of Fes and of the first Moroccan Islamic state.

In the year 1308, almost five centuries since the death of Moulay Idriss II, an uncorrupted body was found on the spot. People believed this was Moulay Idriss II and founded the zaouia. Originally built by the Marinids circa 1440, over the centuries the building was amended heavily, and almost completely replaced in the 18th century by Moulay Ismail in a style typical of the Alaouites that govern Morocco to this day.

Moulay Idriss II is the patron saint of the city of Fes, and it is believed that walking through his zaouia is beneficial for strangers visiting the city, boys before being circumcised and women wanting to facilitate childbirth.

Tip:
Unless you're a Muslim, you can't go in – but you can peek through the door and admire the tile work and carvings on the outside (check out the side as well as the front, as you can see surprisingly quite a lot of the building through the different entrances.).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-12pm / 2-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts

3) Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts & Crafts (must see)

The fascinating Nejjarine Museum situated in the heart of Medina has three stories of the history of Moroccan woodworking. Housed in a 14th-century funduq (or khan, a traditional inn), this creative attraction displays lots and lots of excellently crafted wooden objects, ranging from craftsman’s tools to furniture. You can easily wander around this museum for an hour and it is a great opportunity to admire the intricacy of such craftsmanship close up. The building itself is arguably even more beautiful than the crafts found inside and the café on top of the museum has great views over the Medina below.

Why You Should Visit:
The nice clean bathrooms make this a great stop while you're walking around the Medina.
The best part, however, is the roof where you can relax and have a cold drink with nobody around to pressure you.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
4
Ash-Sherabliyin Mosque

4) Ash-Sherabliyin Mosque

Ash-Sherabliyin Mosque is another one of the city’s famous mosques. Located in the heart of the holy and marvelous Medina, this religious building was named after the slipper-makers of the former Moroccan city. The mosque also features white minaret with green ornaments.
5
Gazleane Mosque

5) Gazleane Mosque

Gazleane Mosque is one of the 350 mosques that exist in the historical Medina. Gazleane is a wonderful religious building and tourist attraction, situated on the one of the main streets in the district - Talaa Kebira.
6
Water Clock

6) Water Clock

Located straight across the street from the Bou Inania Medersa, the water clock is a really outstanding and unique attraction. The clock accurately represents the ancient water clocks of our world and the mystery that surrounds the geniuses who constructed them.
7
Bou Inania Madrasa

7) Bou Inania Madrasa (must see)

Founded in 1351–56 AD by Abu Inan Faris, who also founded the Bou Inania Madrasa in Meknes, this madrasa is widely acknowledged as an excellent example of Marinid architecture.

The name "Bou Inania" comes from the first part of the sultan's name "Abou Inan". The madrasa functioned both as an educational institute and as a congregational mosque. This is the only madrasa in Fes with a minaret. Opposite the main doorway of the madrasa is the entrance to the dar al-wudu (ablutions house). Left and right of the central court there are classrooms.

According to history, religious leaders of the Karaouine Mosque advised Abu Inan Faris to build this madrasa. It was the last madrasa to be built by the Marinids. The madrasa became one of the most important religious institutions of Fes and Morocco and gained the status of Grand Mosque.

The madrasa was renovated in the 18th century. During the reign of Sultan Mulay Sliman, entire sections were reconstructed. In the 20th century, major restoration work was performed on the load-bearing structure, the plaster, wood and tiled decorations with Islamic geometric patterns.

The madrasa is one of the few religious places in Morocco that is accessible for non-Islamic visitors. Opposite the Madrasa Bou Inania is the Dar al-Magana, a wall with a hydraulic clock that was built in conjunction with the madrasa.

Why You Should Visit:
To see the result of the period when Moorish architecture, art, math, medicine, philosophy, etc., were the highest quality in the world (in about the 14th century).
While the tour itself doesn't take long to walk through, the courtyard is very beautiful with intricate wood carvings and colourful tile work that should definitely not be missed.

Opening Hours:
Sat-Wed: 9am-5pm; closed during prayers
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Bab Bou Jeloud

8) Bab Bou Jeloud (must see)

Bab Bou Jeloud is one of the numerous gates in Fes, located at the entrance to old Medina. The original gate was built in Mauresque-Andalusian style in the 11th century. The exterior of Bab Bou Jeloud is beautifully decorated with Fassi blue and green tiles, while its horseshoe arches impress due to its splendor.
9
Dar Batha Museum

9) Dar Batha Museum (must see)

Dar Batha is a prominent city landmark and one of the main tourist attractions in the region, consisting of a luxurious palace, gorgeous gardens, and a museum dedicated to Moroccan arts and traditions. Housed in the palace, the museum displays various valuable artifacts taken from the decaying or ruined historic buildings in the medina of Fez such as madrasas, as well as traditional Fassie art works such as embroideries, zellij, sculpted works, jewelry, iron works, Korans, carpets and ceramics. Created for the recreational use of the distinguished guests of Sultan Hassan I, the Andalusian-style garden makes up around 58% of the entire palace area.

Why You Should Visit:
While the museum doesn't have a huge collection on display, the palace itself is majestic and the Andalusian gardens are a tranquil haven if you want to get out from the bustle of the medina.

Tip:
As you go around the museum's exhibitions, don't forget to look up because the ceilings are amazing.
Bags must be given to security on entry – though you can take your camera/valuables out.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 9am-5pm
10
Rue Sekkakine

10) Rue Sekkakine

Rue Sekkakine is located in the "Fez’s Jewish Quarter." Rue Sekkakine is a fine street, one where you will enjoy numerous shopping options. The stores tend to specialize in gold and silver, as the quest for gold was born on this street by the city's Jewish community in the 14th century.
11
Boulevard Boukhsissat

11) Boulevard Boukhsissat

Boulevard Boukhsissat is one of the most important streets in Fes. The street stretches from the Place des Alauites to the intersection of Avenue du Batha and Avenue de La Liberte. Boulevard Boukhsissat is a very prominent city boulevard as it's home to numerous picturesque buildings that date back from the period of the French Protectorate.

Walking Tours in Fes, Morocco

Create Your Own Walk in Fes

Create Your Own Walk in Fes

Creating your own self-guided walk in Fes is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Central Fes

Central Fes

Fes is a charming city, prominent tourist destination, as well as a fascinating place to search and discover. The central district of Fes features important boulevards, fine squares, and beautiful gardens. Explore the central region of Fes today.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Fes Ville Nouvelle

Fes Ville Nouvelle

The Ville Nouvelle region of Fes is very contemporary and home to a number of different tourist attractions. Visit the Ville Nouvelle and you're certain to cherish striking fountains, great mosques, cultural venues, and shopping locations.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Fes El-Jdid

Fes El-Jdid

The El-Jdid district of Fes is among the city’s central regions. Here, visitors will indulge in the fabulous gates, sacred venues, as well as historical buildings. Its main street, Grand Rue de Fes El-Jdid, also presents a fine leather shop.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 km
Walking around Medina

Walking around Medina

Fes is a fabulous Moroccan city with plenty of history. The old, marvelous gates, wonderful gardens, and fine squares all combine to make Fes a very rich city in terms of heritage. Take a walk around Medina and see just what you can explore.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
The Culture of Fes

The Culture of Fes

Fes is Morocco’s former capital as well as one of the most important cultural centers in the entire country. Dating back to the late 8th century, this charming city features several fine art galleries, fascinating museums, informative libraries, and other cultural venues.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Fes for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Fes has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Fes, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.