Narrow Alleys of Fez, Morocco

A bird’s eye view of Fes el-Bali, Fez, Morocco.

The Medina (Fes el-Bali) of Fez is like a place trapped in time. The local people were also dressed as if the word “fashion” was not invented. Make sure you carry your handphone along just in case you have been accidentally transported back in time.

I had the opportunity to visit the Fez Medina twice, through the efforts of Photosafari. Fez was founded in the year 789 AD. Most tourists would come here to visit the Qarawiyyin Mosque and University (it was reputed to be the oldest university in the world). The leather tanneries were another major attraction. It’s very easy to find these ancient tanneries, just follow the smell. Of course the Souq or leather bazaar is a shoppers heaven.

I was very intrigue by the maze of narrow alleys in the Medina. People have been staying here for centuries and little has changed. The life here starts in the wee hours of dawn. Many pilgrims and locals made a beeline to the Mosque for their early morning prayers. The beggars and less fortunate were there to beg for their food and money to get along. At around 7 am, the street cleaners would be swarming the alleys, sweeping away and clearing all the rubbish for the day. Vendors of the bazaar would appear around 8 am to open their shops in anticipation of the tourist crowds. At 9:30 am, the tourist crowds start to arrive and the activities of the day would start. The shops would close around 9:00 pm but some restaurants would open till 10:00 pm. The alleys were died quiet after 10 pm and the day ends.

In order to capture the life in the alleys of Fez, I would recommend that you stay in one of the many hotels inside the Medina.

Pilgrims from around Africa attend the first morning prayers of the day
Beggars hung around the mosque when the first morning prayers started
This bakery just opposite the entrance of the mosque was the first to start her business. I bought a few pieces of naan bread and bottled water and distributed it to those people who were begging besides the mosque. It’s their breakfast.
The street cleaners were up early too.
A couple of restaurants were starting their business to cater for the early morning crowd.
The guy in black cape is not Batman but an Iman. He has such and interesting character. I greeted him with a smiled but his face was dead serious.
Donkeys were used as a means of transport for goods and rubbish
A drink stall
There were a few beggars, usually old men and women
Donkeys dot the alleys
Very elaborate and intricate decoration of the interior of the University of al-Qarawiyyin
The shops were opened for business around 9 to 9:30 am
Attractive copper and brass ware.
A Tannery in Fez.
A leather workshop
The end of day. This was where I had my dinner.