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The Medina in Fes (Morocco)

This article will show you some photos about what was seen in the Medina in Fes, and some explanations of the Medina. Some of the information is from extracts of reports dated 1997.

The medina of Fes in numbers ... (1997)

The Fes medina is home to 160,000 people (32,000 households approximately) spread over 271 hectares. It consists of two parts built at different times: Fes El Bali (eighth century) and Fes J'did (thirteenth century).

The following numbers are only about Fes El Bali

The Medina of Fes Morocco is the first site to integrate the list of UNESCO as World Heritage in 1981. It includes walls (24km), 11 000 historic buildings among which 9 533 houses (740 palaces and mansions of exceptional value), 176 mosques, including the University Quaraouiyine, 83 mausoleums and zaouias*, 11 madrasas**, 43 Islamic schools, 70 public fountains and 40 hammams. It has 12 specialized districts, 9 600 shops, 1 276 craft workshops, nearly 40 000 artisans, 117 fondouks*** and 3 large traditional tanneries.

The situation, in 2012, has worsened.  Since the publication of these reports, the population grows up from 180,000 to 280,000 inhabitants, the area has not enlarged, the number of craft workshops has decreased drastically and the houses threaten to collapse despite numerous props*. Only some houses are restored by rich repatriates, but you can’t see these houses: the streets are bordered by high blind walls, everywhere there are thick doors steadily closed to prevent having a view on the patio inside.

*prop : support used to hold something up

There is no map avaliable for the medina Fes El-Bali. It’s impossible to know exactly the number of «streets» «passages» «blind alleys».

*Zouia: sanctuary and siege of a religious congregation where marabouts are usually buried. The roof of the zaouia of Moulay Idriss II is decorated with green ceramics (green is the color of Islam). Living in the vicinity of a zaouia is supposed provide «baraka» or good luck.

The Medersa el-Attarine, fourteenth century, is covered with zelliges* and decorative richly chased stucco. These madrasas housed students in cells for severaI classmates on mattresses on the floor. The Medersa el-Attarine could accommodate up to 900 people.

The remains of a huge water clock can still be seen.

**medersa or madrasa: school for religious instruction but also a learning center of law, philosophy and astronomy.

*zelliges : ceramic tiles, typical of Arabo-Andalusian Architecture

***fondouk : at the origine a fondouk is a caravasera i.e. an «hostel» for merchants, their goods and their animals (horses, asses, mules, camels). The caravanserai is organized around a central courtyard lined with stables on the ground floor and bedrooms upstairs .These caravanserais were gradually converted into warehouses. Now, workshops are installed in the stables. The fondouk Nejjarine, built in 1711, has been restored and renovated into a museum of "arts and crafts wood".

The Tetouan fondouk (XIVth century) built for the merchants of Tetouan, is now partially rehabilited.

article and photos by Nicole

Photos inside the MEDINA EL-BALI in FES in Fes

1 surrounding walls

2 fortification

3 Bab Boudjloud (Blue Door)

4 main street of the medina

5 main street

6 door of the riad Zamane

7 Nejjarine fountain

8 medersa Bou-Inania

9 Karaouine mosque

10 Tetouan fondouk

11 fondouk  Berber tannery

12 arrivée des dépouilles, mise à plat ouverture

13 wool cutter (délaineur)

14 terraces of Berber area

15 maker of trumpets (Berber area)

16 view over the Medina from the terrace of Riad Zamane

17 view of the minaret of Karaouine Mosque

18 the famous Chouara tanneries

19 baker’shop: the oven

20 the last woodturner

21 with an embroiderer

22 museum Nejjarine for wood

Outside of the medina

23 public garden of the Royal Palace of Fes

24 potter(earthenware)

25 oven

26 cutting tesserae (tiles)

27 mosaic


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revised : published : Jul-2013 / created : 12-nov-2012

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