Where is Fez?
Significance of Fez
Founding of Fez
Renaissance of the Fez Medina

Is it Fez or Fes?

Where is Fez?

Intellectual and artistic capital of Morocco, Fez is located in Morocco's northern region, approximately 200 kilometers below the southern tip of Spain.

Fez can be reached in forty-five minutes by plane from Casablanca, in three hours from Paris, and via overnight service from New York.

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Significance of Fez

Fez is the oldest of Morocco's imperial cities and a religious, intellectual and artistic center of great historic importance. An architectural treasure, Fez is known for the most remarkable Medina in Morocco, an intact medieval city of souks and labyrinthine alleys. UNESCO has designated the entirety of the Fez Medina a World Monument.

Map of Fez Medina: An architectural treasure, Fez Maroc is known for the most remarkable Medina in Morocco, an intact medieval city of souks and labyrinthine alleys. UNESCO has designated the entirety of the Fes Medina a World Monument.

The Founding of Fez

At the end of the 8th century, persecuted by the Abbassids of Baghdad, Idriss I founded the city of Fez along the right riverbank of the Oued Fez. In 818, the Andalusian Quarter was founded by over one thousand Muslim families expelled from Arab Andalusian Spain by Christian armies, bearing with them the learning and culture of a civilization at the height of its glory. Seven years later, they were joined by 300 wealthy merchant and artisan families ousted from Kairouan in what is now Tunisia. These cultured and urban families established themselves on the left bank of the river. By the middle of the 9th century, the famous Karouine University was already built, and Fez was on its way to establishing its reputation as "the Athens of Africa."

Three times the capital of the Kingdom during its twelve-hundred-year history, Fez has seen cyclical periods when the seat of power has rested in Fez, followed by eras where it has been located elsewhere. During the colonial period, the French built a Ville Nouvelle or New City with wide, straight boulevards outside the twisting souks of the Medina, and installed the administrative functions of urban Fez there. The result of this city planning strategy was that the Old Medina was both preserved and bypassed as an administrative center. The Fez Medina both benefits and suffers from this legacy today, remaining one of the world's few intact medieval walled cities - while business and technological advances occur on its outskirts.

The Renaissance of the Fez Medina

In the last few years, increasing attention has been given to the Old Medina of Fez. A Princess of the royal family has led the restoration of the fountains in the Medina, and the Moroccan government has created significant incentives for businesses and private interests to return to the Fez Medina and create new uses for the remarkable range of historic houses there. There has been a resurgence of interest in the architectural and cultural treasures in the Old City of Fez, evidenced by a number of traditional Medina houses being purchased and restored by both Moroccan and foreign families. Invisible World's Fez Medina project is just one part of this widespread effort to preserve and interpret the remarkable historic legacy of the Medina of Fez.

Is It Fez or Fes?

It is both, and neither. The Western name for the city is drawn from the Arabic, and there is no one correct way to transliterate Arabic words into Western characters. In the French language, the city is referred to as "Fes", while Americans tend to use "Fez". Fassis themselves use "Fes", most likely due to the long history of colonial French presence in Morocco. On the Fez Medina site, we use "Fez" primarily because it is the most commonly used spelling in America, where our web site and many of our clients are located. But we do permit ourselves some inconsistencies. Both so that we can be found in Internet searches, but also out of habit of living in Morocco in constant flux between three languages, where among our staff and family a sentence often begins in one language and ends in another, in a constant meandering not unlike the medina itself. Our role is to interpret back and forth across the lines of language, always remembering that the one true name of this remarkable city is neither "Fes" nor "Fez", but:

                                                  Arabic spelling of Fes or Fez, Morocco Maroc Marokko