Lay of the Land
“A little imagination goes a long way in Fes.”~Tahir Shah
If Marrakech has become the darling of Europeans looking for warmth and a bit of exoticism in winter, Fez has held on to its traditions. So while Marrakech has become more Westernized by the influx and influence of expats, Fez retains its role as the religious and cultural heart of the country. In its days of glory, Fez drew so many philosophers and Islamic intellectuals that it was known as “Athens of Africa.” Today as Morocco’s third largest city, with a population of 1 million people, Fez attracts many fewer tourists than Marrakech. However, its medieval souk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, remains the largest souk in the world. Among its winding lanes (approximately 9,000) is a thriving way of life where bartering and praying are constantly on display. The ancient monuments of the city, some of which date back to the 9th century, and its ancient leather tanneries can be toured in a day while another should be spent visiting the Roman ruins of Volubis and the imperial city of Meknes.
When to Go
Fez can get quite cold in the winter and scorching hot in the summer. The best months to visit are September, October, April or May.