This tour of the Fez el-Bali can last from two hours to longer, depending on how immersed you want to get in the culture, sights and sounds of this incredible experience. Fez is one of Morocco’s most authentic souqs, and we can be as immersive as you want.
You begin at the Bab Bou Jeloud gate. You first visit the Talaa Kabeira, an area famous for fresh produce. Look out for the camel butcher – complete with heads of the former camels proudly on display. You arrive at the Madersa Bou Inania, which dates from the 14th century. Inside you will witness some of Fez’ best ornate carvings, tile work and carved plasterwork. Uniquely for a Madersa, it houses its own mosque. Opposite the Madersa is the Magana Hydraulic Clock which comes with a story to tell. You continue downhill, passing an old fondouq (resting house for travelling merchants). Visit the Fondouq Kaat Smen, selling locally produced honey and smen – a butter used in cooking. You pass the Chrabliyine Mosque – named after the local slipper-makers who plied their trade in this area, and some still do.
You then turn into the main souq, passing fruit and vegetable stalls and the textile souq before arriving at the Chaouwara Tanneries, seen from a viewing platform. It’s an assault on the senses but a superb and interesting experience nonetheless.
You continue into Place Ialla Ydouna before crossing the river and enter Place R’Cif. Continue through the markets, into the dyer’s souq before reaching the leathermakers’ souq. Arrive at Place Saffarine, where you stop for a mint tea at Crèmerie la Place. Hear the metal workers beat copper pots as you sip your tea. You then walk around the Kairaouine Mosque and University, one of the oldest in the world. On your way, stop at the superb Fondouk Staounyine. We suggest visiting the interesting Madersa el-Attarine next – the central courtyard displays traditional patterns of Merenid artisanship.
You return to the shopping souqs, where haberdashers ply their trade. You pass Zawiya Moulay Idriss II – non-Muslims can’t enter, but you might be lucky to peer inside. Continue to Henna Souq. Here you find oils on sale, pottery and, of course, henna. The Museum of Woods, Arts and Crafts is absolutely worth a visit – a wonderfully restored fondouq. The rooftop cafe is worth a stop for yet another mint tea.
You then return to the Blue Gate along the Talaa Seghira, and it’s time for lunch. The Ruined Garden provides an innovative approach to street food in a delightful garden. Perfect after a morning in the souqs of Fez.