FES – city info

The oldest of the four "imperial cities" of Morocco (the others are Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat), Fes was the capital of Morocco several times in the past, the last of which ended in 1912, when most of Morocco came under French control and Rabat was chosen to be the capital of the new colony. Today Fes is the third largest city in Morocco after Casablanca and Rabat.

Fes is often referred to as the spiritual capital of Morocco. It was once one of the most important places of scholarship in the world, containing within its walls the bastion of Islamic teaching. The University of Al-Karaouine was founded in 859 AD and is the oldest continuously-operating university in the world.

Fes is separated into three parts - Fes el Bali (the old walled city, dating from the 8 th century), Fes-Jdid (new Fes, home of the Mellah or Jewish quarter, dating from the 13 th century), and the New Town   (the French-created, newest section of Fes, dating from the 20th century ).

The sprawling labyrinthine medina of Fes el Bali, is considered to be the best preserved old city in the Arab world, and is the largest car-free urban zone in the world. Fes el Bali was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

Things to See & Do in Fes

Visit the Palace Gates , the Mellah (Jewish quarter) and Fes el Djedid . The view from the hills surrounding the city is spectacular - head to one of the old fortresses, Borj Sud (good in the morning) or Borj Nord (better in afternoon). The Merenid Tombs next to the Merenid Hotel, also provide excellent panoramic views over the medina and the wider city, as well as the olive tree lined hills surrounding the city. Visit the pottery quarter , located outside the old medina, where traditional Fes blue pottery is produced.

Then head into the ancient medina, Fes el Bali, to explore the narrow alleys of this fascinating city on foot. Once you are in the bowels of the 1200 year old city, you will get the real '1001 nights' feeling by glimpses of beauty and whiffs of perfume mixed with the smell of donkey dung.

You'll see palaces, mosques and medresa (Koranic schools), artisans producing beautiful traditional crafts, and the traditional Berber pharmacy with hundreds of jars of twisted roots, twigs and oils lined up along their walls. You can also visit the famous leather tanneries that still work in the same way they have for centuries, with their huge vats of dyes and creaking water wheels and numerous shops selling leather goods from shoes to bags, belts to jackets.


Bou Inania medresa : a 14th-century religious college. The best example of Islamic architecture a non-Muslim can see in Fes, with wooden walls elaborately carved with geometric patterns and Arabic calligraphy, and a beautiful minaret. In the courtyard there is a portico with a still-functioning mosque, separated by the rest of the courtyard by a small moat.

Moulay Idriss II shrine : the tomb of Fes' founder. Entrance is limited to Muslims, but you see into the shrine from the main gate.

Al-Kiraouine Mosque and University : founded in 859, the university is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world. The mosque and library have beautifully decorated exteriors. Non-muslims cannot enter, but look from the gateways.

Al-Attarine Medresa : 14th century koranic school that takes its name from the Souk al-Attarine, the spice and perfume market. Another example of beautiful Islamic architecture and traditional crafts, in marble, alabaster and cedar wood. It has a beautiful bronze door and an elegant courtyard.

Bab Boujeloud : among the most famous gates in Morocco. It was built as late as 1913 and marks the point where Fes el Bali meets Fes el Jedid. The view from outside the gate is impressive, with minarets and houses seen through the opening. The colors of mosaics change - the outside is blue, reflecting the color of Fes, while the inside is green, the color of Islam.


Dar Batha Museum : Situated in a century old Spanish-Moorish palace, this museum possesses a unique collection of traditional Moroccan arts and crafts. Istiqual Square. Opening hours: Monday–Wednesday 8:30am-12pm & 2:30pm-6:30pm.

Belghazi Museum : A private museum housed in a 17th century palace, whose collection nearly rivals that of the Dar Batha Museum. Many of the items on display are actually for sale, if your pockets are deep enough! Opening hours: 9am-6:30pm.

Nejjarine Museum : 18th century funduk/caravanserai, beautifully restored, housing a fine collection of traditional woodworking. A funduk is an inn for traveling merchants, who stayed upstairs and kept their animals and sold their merchandise downstairs. The entire Nejjarine Square and Carpenters' Souk have been restored, in addition to the funduk.

Arms Museum of the Borj Nord: a 16th century fortress housing a large collection of antique arms. Even if you're not interested in weapons, the building, craftsmanship of the objects, and view of the medina are wonderful.

Restaurants & Cafes


Restaurant Zagora – Avenue Mohammed V. Tel: 0535-940686. Moroccan cuisine. Alcohol  available.

Restaurant La Cheminee - 6 Avenue Lalla Asmae (just up the road from the train station). Tel: 0535-624902. Old fashioned french brasserie style, with Moroccan and French cuisine, alcohol available.

Restaurant Marrakech – 11 Rue Abes Tazi. Small Moroccan restaurant, moderate pricing. No Alcohol.

Maison Blanche – 12 rue Ahmed Chaouki, FES (near Jnane Palace Hotel). Bar lounge (with happy hour 19h-20h) and restaurant. Open 12h-15h and 19h-23h. French, chic, little pricy. Tel: 0535 622727.


Le Kasbah – Just inside Bab Boujeloud, one of the main gates of the medina. Climb up to the terrace overlooking the gate and the surrounding medina. Simple menu with tagine, couscous, brochettes.

Restaurant Zohra – 3 Derb Ain Nass Blida, medina. Tel: 0535-637699. Buried in the medina backstreets to the north of Kiraouine Mosque. Moroccan food, real home cooking.

La Maison Bleue – 2 Place de l’Istiqlal, Batha, Medina. Tel: 0535-636052. A typical old Fassi house, now an upmarket riad hotel that is also known for its restaurant. Must book in advance.

Al Fassia – in Hotel Palais Jamais, Bab Guissa Tel: 0535 634331. Highly regarded Moroccan restaurant at the renowned Hotel Palais Jamai has spellbinding terrace views over the old city's rooftops, Andalusian band and belly dancing. Faultless gourmet fare includes pastilla, couscous, tagine and mechoui (roast lamb). Book ahead; dinner only. Expensive.

Fez Lounge – 95, Zkak Rouah- Tala Kbira Tel: 0535 633097. New addition to the medina scene, contemporary décor mixed with tradition. Mediterranean inspired tapas, traditional Moroccan dishes like Pastilla and tagine, scrummy deserts (try the brownie!). Shisha. Open 11am-10pm.

Cafe Clock7 Derb El Magana, Talaa Kbira (near Bab Boujloud) Tel: 0535 637855. Magnificently restored house in the old medina, turned into a cafe. The people are friendly (and speak English) and the food is excellent. Ask to be seated on the terrace, and listen for the call to prayer coming from several minarets in the area. Regular cultural and music programs.

Le Palais de Fes - also known as Dar Tazi. 15 Mokhfia, Place R'cif (near cinema Amal). Tel: 0535 761590. A rooftop restaurant over a carpet shop, Dar Tazi offers Fez's best pastilla and other traditional dishes.

Bars & Clubs

Fes is a conservative, Islamic city so a raucous nightlife is not on the menu. Often, meeting someone for a drink usually means a freshly squeezed juice or mint tea.

As the Islamic faith generally forbids the consumption of alcohol there are no bars in the medina. Almost all drinking establishments in Fes are hotel bars. Unaccompanied women do not often frequent bars. Hotels in the new part of town are a good option if you fancy a drink. The new part of town is where you will find most of the existing discos and nightlife. The majority of nightclubs are in the large hotels and don't get started until around midnight.


Hotel Batha - Place Batha. In the rear of Hotel Batha are two bars - the first is more of an English-style pub lounge, with comfortable leather chairs and fireplaces. Good for a casual drink. In the rear is a night-club type bar that is mostly empty and rarely open.

Hotel Les Mérinides - a sophisticated option, with a chic clientele, great views of the medina and happy hour from 7-8pm every night.: Route de Tour de Fes

Sofitel Palais Jamaï - A luxurious bar with creative cocktails and sumptuous appetizers. Stunning views of the medina from the outdoor patio. Address: Hotel Sofitel Palais Jamai, Bab Guissa.

L'Alcazar Bar - Riad Fes, 5 Derb Ben Slimane Zerbtana. A stylish lounge area in this upmarket riad guesthouse, where stunning design is combined with a warm atmosphere exuding an oriental yet contemporary feel. The lounge bar and smoking room feature a vast choice of cocktails, malt, cognac, wines but also a selection of cigars.

Mezzanine - Situated opposite the entrance to the Jnan Sbil gardens just outside Boujloud Square. Set over three floors, with an additional outside patio, Mezzanine offers both a cozy lounge bar for a quiet cocktail tapas as well as a comfortable larger seating area for dinners and parties. Resident DJ t night.


Pub Cala Iris   - A 2-floor English style pub in the new town. 26 Avenue Hassan II.

Hotel Menzeh Zalagh An upscale, trendy bar popular with the fashionable youths of Fes. Happy hour from 7-9pm every night. It has also one of the most popular nightspots in Fes, this club draws a mix of locals and tourists, and plays a variety of popular French, Arabian & American music. Nightclub opens: from 10pm. 10 Rue Mohammed Diouri

Lephoebus - One of Fes' trendiest nightclubs inside one of the classiest hotels. Hotel Jnan Palace, Avenue Ahmed Chaouki Opening hours: from 8pm