Fez Medina

The next morning our tour guide met us in the courtyard of the Riad.  Our tour guide's name was Farida, and as the name suggests, she was a woman.  In my (mostly observed) experience, the tour guide industry in Morocco is dominated by men.  Farida confirmed this fact for Fez at least when she said "there are only about 10 of us (women tour guides) in Fez".

I felt like Farida gave us insights into domestic life and a perspective that I don't think we would have gotten from a male tour guide.  She was gracious and informative and we were delighted to be protected from hustlers.  She was fasting, as some Muslim women do on days outside of Ramadan*, but insisted on showing us around almost three hours after our official tour ended (without any expectation of more money).  She was terrific.  In addition to a great our, I really liked the idea of supporting a woman in what is a male dominated profession in what could be considered a male dominated society.  I think we will ask about female tour guides in the future.

We started with the "newest" old section outside the Medina walls that was built in the 14th century and ended next to the oldest university in the world, Al-Kairouine built in 859.  Hopefully you'll get a sense of the history and artistry that Fez is known for through these pictures.

Al-Karaouine University - oldest in the world.  We weren't allowed
to enter because it is also a mosque, but they keep a big
door open so nosey poseys like myself can peek in.  
14th century door to one of the King's palaces
The Husband and our tour guide
Talaa K'bira - the main artery of the Fez Medina
That's for my Mom.  I know I'm not good about pictures of us...
Some of the streets are VERY narrow
Have you ever seen this? I hadn't.
I must have a giant cooking egg!
Beautifully restored Attarine Medersa  - once used as a place of study
and lodging for students. 
Amazing stucco work at Attarine Medersa
We saw how they make the tiny pieces of tile that will be worked into a pattern, cemented together
from the back, and then flipped over to reveal the beautiful mosaic.
We also saw ceramic pottery being made and painted.  Fez is known for its crafts that have endured the ages.  
Bou Inania Medersa
Bou Inania Medersa
Yay!  The Fez Chouara Tanneries.  These were first on my
brain when I thought about moving to Morocco.   

Tannery pots for dying leather.  They smell.  Part of the solution
 they soak the skins in is made with pidgin droppings.  
We ended the day, and our trip, on the terrace of our Riad overlooking the city.  Morocco and Algeria had a soccer match that night and after being booted from the Africa Cup of Nations by Algeria in March, Moroccans were looking forward to a rematch.  We didn't see the game, but we heard the unbelievably loud eruptions of cheering from the streets below and houses all across the city as Morocco scored 4 goals to defeat Algeria.  It was a good game evidently, and a wonderful trip.

*I didn't know that some Muslim women choose to fast outside of Ramadan.  Something about fasting on days of the week when the Heavens are more open?  I think I'm actually going to email Farida and ask her about it.  I'll post her answer here.  


  1. The awesomeness of the past three posts is inexpressible. Fantastically awesome.

  2. These pictures are spectacular! I love reading your blog and getting an "insider's view" on Morocco. Maybe when I am in Jerusalem I will have to hop on over and see Morocco for myself!

  3. Incredible pictures, Brooke! Wow! I think your experience has been vastly different than mine; I think it was announced in the newspaper last week that there was a Muslim (one) in the country.

  4. Stunning pictures - absolutely breathtaking!

  5. I found your blog via DiplomaticDad, who is a classmate of mine in the 162nd A-100 class (starting July 18). I studied abroad in Morocco in college so your blog really brings back awesome memories. :)

    The Muslim women fasting outside of Ramadan is pretty common; most women I know who choose to fast outside Ramadan do so to make up for the week during Ramadan when they are on their period. Women don't have to fast during their period or if they're pregnant but many women choose to make up that time throughout the year. It's not required, but lots of devout women do it that way.

    Also: make sure you take a trip up to Chefchauen while you're in Morocco. It's an awesome awesome small town and it's super relaxing.

  6. Kristin -

    I'm so glad you commented - I'm always glad to meet new officers (congrats!) and especially glad to meet people who have been to Morocco.

    We are loving it so far and can't wait to see more of it. Thanks for the tip about Chefchauen. We'll put it on our list.

    So interesting to know about the fasting thing - I've encountered several people here who do it and I didn't meet anyone in Jerusalem.