"The Colours and the Misery of an Imperial Town" Top 5 Page for this destination Wilaya de Fes by LuisGuimaraes

Wilaya de Fes Travel Guide: 194 reviews and 399 photos

Fes was the second stop of my Morocco road-trip and is one of the most intense and touching places I've ever been. Once you see from above the huge white aglomerate, you know something special is down there.

As the road ends and you enter the walls beneath one of the arches, a Whole Old World uncovers before your eyes. Dust and earth mix to a yellow heated paste where donkeys, cows and goats share with people and cars the tiny streets (before entering the real tiny and narrow ones, where donkeys are the only means of transport). Cars and man-guided animals fight their way through the moving crowd, which seems not to stop flowing and flowing unendlessly..

The car parked and left in the safe "hands" of a "Gardien", time is to enter the real labyrinth, the mythic Fes Medina, in this case Fes-El Bali. It is - or at least I thought it was, for me, in my sensibility - another Planet, something I wasn't used to. Maybe because it was the first visit to both an African and a Muslim country. Maybe not.

The smell, between spicy and rotten, the people and the animals, again in that never-ending flowing mechanism that makes your head turn while your feet - them, too! - can't stop, because Fes has it's own rythm (and much more than its own "blues", because the colours are endless, both beautiful and depressive).

Children follow us and exchange a smile for a coin. Children work for hours and hours in underground cellars. Children play on the dark ground with plastic pieces substituting real chess figures. And old men sit on the shadow, praying or sleeping, enchanted by the voice that comes from the Minaret. And middle-aged, young, and old men, they work, because every hole in the wall without door is used for manufacture of endless primary goods.

Between all this, splendourous mosques and medrassas pop out after an angle, and bring a little of air to the beating heart.

Fes, the giant white urban center, between dry mountains and the hot sun, doesn't frighten, but may provoque anxiousity. It doesn't leave you to rest, doesn't allow you to close your eyes. It turns around you, while you get lost inside it. When one let's himself go with the flow, time stops and claustrofobia may take care of your feelings, but only retrospectively, because you only feel it when you finally go out of the never-ending Medina and get back to fresh air again.

Behind you are endless bazars, endless flavours, tastes, colours and smells. Endless animal beings, endless human identities which make their own life inside those streets.

People may not all look at you smiling, but they would never harm you. It's just different worlds, but don't use that as an excuse for avoiding them: the smile of a person in Fes - old or young - has the unique taste of honesty. Play football with the children. Let them guide you, and get lost. When the streets get wider, cars begin to be seen, and one's car is finally there, a tear falls, because the huge Medina of Fes might not be a pearl, but is is a splendurous beauty.

  • Last visit to Wilaya de Fes: Aug 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (8)

Comments (6)

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2005 at 6:54 AM

    Hi, your page seems like a nice start! I would love to go to Morocco. Have you heard of the novela called ' El clon' I saw it about 2 years ago and since then I want to go to Morocco.

  • dr.firas's Profile Photo
    Nov 15, 2004 at 2:04 AM

    Great tips, some photos and the page will be great ;-D

  • Pierangelo's Profile Photo
    Nov 5, 2004 at 4:59 AM

    Molto interessanti le descrizioni sul marocco.

  • johnsakura's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2004 at 1:57 AM

    again Luis, very nice tips and comments on such a nice place. Fes needs time to be discovered and one also need to be with their eyes open in order not to get lost or ***ed by some oficial guide... cheers joao

  • LuisGuimaraes's Profile Photo
    Oct 29, 2004 at 6:06 AM

    Ja falta pouco!

  • quartinb's Profile Photo
    Oct 28, 2004 at 5:48 PM

    ,,,é pá faltam as fotografias!


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