I took this photograph of the ancient Fez medina from a vantage point overlooking Morocco’s old Imperial capital.
Often called the Mecca of the West, Fez is Morocco’s cultural and spiritual center and its UNESCO World Heritage-listed walled medina is the world’s largest car-free urban area.
The American writer and longtime Moroccan resident Paul Bowles called it “an enchanted labyrinth sheltered from time.”
Once the end of the gold trading route that stretched all the way to Timbuktu, Fez has the oldest continuously functioning university in the world, the University of Al-Karaouine, founded by women in AD859.
Today people live and work in its 9000 laneways much the same way as they have for a thousand or so years. Craft guilds still produce butter-soft leather, copper ware, cactus-silk cloth and much more. Donkeys remain the main form of transport.
If you’d like some insider tips on getting beneath the tourist trail in Fez and connecting with the locals, see my post Insider’s Guide to Fez.
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