Medina of Fez




A walled area within the city of Fez in north-central Morocco, the Medina is considered the most complete and best preserved medieval city in the Arab world. It began when the King of Morocco established it as his capital in the eighth century and permitted refugees from the Islamic states of Cordoba and Tunisia to settle there. Their superb craftsmanship and entrepreneurial skills led to a thriving commercial center.  In 1248, the Maranids invaded and took possession of the city, subsequently building a new Royal City.


Within the walls of the Medina, motorized traffic is prohibited, and the Medina is known to be one of the largest car-free urban areas in the world.  Life has changed little over the centuries.  Donkeys and mules are still used for transportation on the maze of unpaved roads, and getting lost is a certainty.  Amongst the narrow buildings are alleyways, passages and small squares where people bake bread, dye leather, weave cloth and hammer metals.  Many of its water fountains, hammams (public bath houses), mosques, palaces, madrasas and fondouks (traditional inns) date from the era of the Maranids.


At his height, Fez was a scholarly center of North African and Muslim life, and is home of the University of Al-Karaouine, the oldest university in the world, founded in 859. The Medina, whose construction techniques and decoration developed over ten centuries, is a fascinating example of a city that preserves its lifestyle and culture in the face of growing modernity.



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