Magical, sultry and romantic – these words best describe the Fez medina (city centre), where cars have been replaced by donkeys and camels and merchants sell carpets, spices and mystic oil lamps. Who knows what kinds of dreams can come true with those lamps…
With a population of close to 1 million, Fez (Fès) is one of the largest cities in Morocco. It is one of the four imperial cities, along with Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat. For centuries, the city served as the cultural capital of Morocco and UNESCO has declared the old centre a World Heritage Site. The Al Qaraouiyyin mosque was constructed back in the 9th century. It continues to be an impressive spiritual centre and one of the oldest universities in the world. Moroccan art and handicrafts can be admired in the Dar el-Bacha palace.
Mint as protection
Traditional handicrafts can also be found outside the museums. Leather, mosaics and ceramics are particularly prevalent in the old centre. The streets here are narrow and full of life. They meander through the centre and are populated by enthusiastic merchants selling spices, meat, vegetables, fruit, pottery, copper, silver and even gold. The tanneries have a very permeating smell, but not to worry, a sprig of mint held up to the nose keeps the odour away.
The local restaurants are a treat for the olfactory senses. Moroccan cuisine consists of a diverse mix of soups, salads, meat, fish and sweet pastries. The latter pairs perfectly with mint tea, the national beverage of Morocco. Other must-tries are harira (lentil and meat soup) and pastille (meat or fish in puff pastry). Moroccan cuisine is a feast for all the senses. As the Moroccans say, Besaha! (bon appetit!)