Morocco's Fez Morocco, formerly known as Fes, was the country's capital until 1925 and has long been regarded as the country's spiritual home. The medina of Fez is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the world's largest car-free zones. It has been overshadowed in recent years by the larger and more tourist-oriented Marrakech, but it nevertheless provides tourists with a unique perspective on Moroccan life.
The Growth of Fez
Fez rose to become one of the world's largest cities between 1170 and 1180, and the city walls built during this time still constitute the outline of Fez el Bali today. Between 1271 and 1357, enormous progress was made, particularly in education, with seven madrasas (schools) being erected in Fez, making it a center of Islamic education.
The Jewish neighborhood of Fez attracts a large number of visitors. The mellah, which is still standing near the royal palace, was completed in 1438.
Other dynasties followed, including the Marinids, Wattasids, Saadians, and the Ottoman Empire itself. Fez has been an important commercial post on the Barbary Coast since 1649, and until the 19th century, it was the only source of "fezzes," the signature red, tassled hats. The crimson color is derived from a fruit found outside of the city. It gained independence in 1790, but by 1795, power had reverted to the kingdom of Morocco, where it remained the capital until 1925. Morocco became a protectorate under French administration in 1912, thanks to the Treaty of Fez.
The Ville Nouvelle, a new suburb of Fez, grew out of the French protectorate in the twentieth century. The medina of Fez was listed as a world historic site by UNESCO in 1981, and the famous World Sacred Music Festival began in 1994.