Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fall Break part 2

(continued from above.)

The bab of the royal palace. Note the ridiculously conspicuous tourists to the left.
The medina, seen from above. This medina is the largest in the world, and
probably the most extensive car-free urban area anywhere.
The main entrance into the medina.
All your bab are belong to us.

Just as in the Rabat medina, you can buy pretty much anything here. The Fès medina, however, is much more crowded and there are throngs and throngs of tourists.
One place we visited in the medina was the Medersa Bou Inania, an old Islamic school with a mosque inside. This is the only madrasa in Fès that has a minaret tower.

The Fès medina is huge. We went through a residential quarter--there are 100,000 people living in the medina--as well as centers for handicrafts and metalwork. We visited a traditional Berber carpet shop:

Traditional dyes include blue indigo, green mint, and
yellow saffron.
This blanket is made with white sheep, black sheep, and
camel wool.
We also visited a shop that sold fabric made from cactus fiber. Other destinations we visited are the shrine of Moulay Idriss and the al-Quaraouiyine mosque school, (debatably) the oldest university in the world.
The couscous I had for lunch was particularly good.
Our last stop was the famous tannery quarter. Here animal hides are turned into all sorts of leather goods, but especially baboush, the traditional Moroccan slippers.

It doesn't smell that bad...
Yellow slippers are especially traditional.

All sorts of nice leather things

The next day we had planned to go back to the medina, but never made it. On the way home we stopped by Moulay Yacoub, a site with natural sulfur hot springs. The hammams there are a popular destination for Moroccans on vacation, and we got our first authentic hammam experience.

I would have loved to spend more time in Fès, and it's far enough away that we probably won't be back, but now at least I've been. We saw the famous medina, and got Meknès and Volubilis as well. Now it's back to school until Christmas break. Sometime in the spring we'll once again dress up as tourists and visit another of Morocco's great cities.

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