The city of Fez is renowned for its medina known as Fes-al-Bali, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was founded in the ninth century and encircled by an impressive eight-kilometer wall. The streets inside Fes-al-Bali are narrow and there are no cars allowed. The city seems to have remained virtually unchanged since mediaeval times. Wandering around the Souks (markets) in the medina is a real treat for the senses, and most of the things to do in the city are within Fes-al-Bali. Joining a tour or hiring a guide is advisable because Fes-al-Bali is so big that visitors can easily find themselves unable to find their way back to their hotel.
The Karaouine Mosque is right in the center of the medina. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the many religious schools around the mosque. The most famous school is the Attarin Madrasa, which was built in the 14th Century and has beautiful Islamic architecture.
The tanner’s quarter inside the medina is another popular attraction in Fez. Visitors will be able to watch the process of tanning Moroccan leather in huge vats. The area can smell quite unpleasant though as one of the ingredients used in the curing process is pigeon droppings. Visitors to the tanneries are advised to be accompanied by a guide.
The Merinid Tombs
On a hillside in the north of the Medina, visitors will find ruins of the Merinid Tombs. These are the graves of a Moroccan dynasty and date back to the mediaeval times. The ruins of the palace and necropolis are also here, and it is a great place to spend an hour or so as it offers fantastic views out over the city.
Gates to the Old City
Fes-al-Bail has several beautiful gates which are worth visiting. The Bab Bou Jeloud is situated in the west and is beautifully decorated. This is a convenient area to stay, as there are many hotels in Fez as well as restaurants here.