What Is a Riad?

What Is a Riad?

You’ve booked your ticket to Morocco, now you need to decide where to stay. After all, you’ll need a place to sleep, shower and relax between riding camels on the beach, shopping for handmade rugs and eating couscous on your holiday to Morocco. While there are a variety of chain hotels and luxury resorts available throughout the country, every visitor should strongly consider spending at least a few nights in a Moroccan Riad.

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The Old Capital: Fez, Morocco

The Old Capital: Fez, Morocco

Although demoted from the position of Morocco’s capital city, there is little doubt that Morocco’s former capital, the city of Fez, remains one of the most important cities in the entire country. Fez was the capital of Morocco for over four centuries, and it still remains the cultural center of the country, as well as one of the most important religious centers. The city was founded in the late 8th century, and a large part of Fez remains a medieval city in design, a visual proof of the city’s history and culture.

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Top 10 Posts to Read Before You Visit Fez

Top 10 Posts to Read Before You Visit Fez

Until 1925 Fez was the modern capital of Morocco and it retains its prestige as one of the most enchanting and enriching cities in the country. Home to the world’s largest car-free city center and the world’s oldest functioning university, it’s no surprise Fez is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and a must-visit on tourist radars. Before you pack your bags and visit Fez, here are ten articles for you to read, get prepared, and make sure you get the most out of your visit to this ancient city. (more…)

Traveling During Eid al-Adha (Eid el-Kbir) in Morocco

Eid al-Adha in Morocco with sheep

By far, Eid al-Adha is the most important holiday for Muslims around the world. It occurs two lunar months after the end of Ramadan. Confusingly, Eid al-Adha called by many different names. Eid el-Kbir (often spelled “Eid el-Kbeer, “Aid al-Kébir” and other variations) is really common. It translates to “The Big Holiday”. With  francophiles, la fête du mouton (“sheep festival”) is also common. (more…)

UNESCO World Heritage Series: Volubilis, Morocco

UNESCO World Heritage Series: Volubilis, Morocco

There are many good reasons for the inquisitive traveler to visit Morocco. The High Atlas Mountains and their hiking trails. The old cities of Fez and Marrakesh with the largest traditional markets in all of Africa. And of course the impressive Roman ruins dotted throughout the country. Yes, you read that right. Roman ruins! In Morocco! The Roman ruins of Volubilis, Morocco, the finest of all the Roman ruins to be found in the country, are at once important for their Roman connections to the region, but for so many more reasons than that. (more…)

Destination Morocco: A Journey for Every Type of Traveler

Destination Morocco, Chefchaouen, Marrakesh, Marrakech, Casa, Casablanca, Maroc, What to do in Morocco, What to do with family in Morocco, family travel in Morocco, foodie morocco, food in morocco, morocco for foodies

For many travelers the question isn’t if you’ll be traveling or when you’ll be traveling. It’s a matter of where you’ll be traveling. Where do you want to go on your dream vacation? Where should you spend your beach getaway to relax after a hectic month at the office? Where will you be taking that once-in-a-lifetime family trip? If you’re reading this, you probably already know where you’re going: Destination Morocco!

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How Moroccan Architecture Is Built to Beat the Heat

When I was planning a trip to Fez a few weeks ago, I made sure to book a riad (a traditional Moroccan house) with air conditioning. Like many parts of Morocco in July, the temperature was forecast to be almost 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius). I was sweating as I walked through the streets but was pleasantly surprised to find that my guesthouse was nice and cool… and they hadn’t even turned on the AC! This was all thanks to the genius of Moroccan architecture! (more…)

JBT’s Ultimate Guide to the Quranic Schools of Morocco

JBT’s Ultimate Guide to the Quranic Schools of Morocco

The long, storied history of learning and scholarship in Morocco is often surprising to first time visitors, and even to some longtime inhabitants. In fact, Morocco boasts the world’s oldest university – the University of al-Qarawiyyin (also written as: Al Quaraouiyine or Al-Karaouine). Recognized by UNESCO and the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest university, al-Qarawiyyin was founded in 859 AD by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant family who immigrated to Morocco from modern-day Tunisia. (more…)

The Incredible Royal Stables of Meknes

Royal Stables Meknes Sultan Horses Arabian Thoroughbred Studs Studfarm Granary Heri Es-souani

One of Morocco’s most famed rulers was Sultan Moulay Ismail. He was 27 when he came to power and ruled from 1645-1727. During his reign, the country’s capital city was transferred to Meknes, where his slaves brought to life his splendid visions for the city’s architectural masterpieces. Often called“The Bloodthirsty” for his harsh, often violent rule, not only did Moulay Ismail pillage nearby Volubilis for all of its precious marble and other materials to build his palace in Meknes, he was rumored to have buried his slaves within the palace walls if he was dissatisfied with their work. (more…)

Dar Batha Museum in Fez, Morocco

Dar Batha Museum in Fez
Arts and history enthusiasts simply can’t leave Fez without paying a visit to the incredible Dar Batha Museum, the city’s museum of traditional Moroccan arts. Set in a gorgeous 19th century palace, the building in itself could be considered a piece of art. Designed by Sultan Moulay Hassan, this Andalusian-Arabic style palace was occupied by two sultans before being repurposed as a museum in 1915. It features stunning zeillij tiling, intricate wood carvings, and a tranquil Andalusian garden where visitors can enjoy a peaceful break from the bustle of the medina. Within its walls however, lies the real treasure: one of the country’s finest collections of Moroccan decorative arts and artifacts dating to the 10th century. (more…)

Bab Boujloud in Fez, Morocco

Bab Boujloud in Fez Morocco

Bab Boujloud, Fez Morocco

No one visits Fez without passing by Bab Boujloud at least once. It is virtually impossible, as the gate (bab in Arabic) serves as an excellent navigation point for the lost wanderers trying to find their way through the busy streets of the Fez medina. But Bab Boujloud is much more than just a handy reference point on a map. Its glittering mosaic tiles and grand archway have made it one of Morocco’s most famed gateways and a sight you definitely won’t want to miss as you discover the city of Fez. (more…)

Merenid Tombs (Marinid Tombs) in Fez, Morocco

Merenid Tombs in Fez Morocco
Everyone loves a little mystery, and that is exactly what you will get when you visit the enigmatic ruins of the Merenid Tombs (also known as Marinid Tombs). Located on a hill just above the bustling city of Fez, there is very little that is actually known about these tombs besides the fact that they were built in the 14th century. The time period suggests that these were built during the Merenid dynasty, but it is not certain who specifically was buried there and why. All of this mystery only entices us even more, and the tombs are one of the most visited sites in Fez. The spectacular panoramic views of the city and mountains may also have a little something to do with it. (more…)

Al-Qarawiyyin (al-Karaouine) Mosque and University in Fez, Morocco

Hand-drawn illustration of Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque in Fez, Morocco

For over 1200 years, the Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque (or al-Karaouine) has been one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim World. With a history dating back to the 9th century, this mosque and university have been the selected congregation space for various Muslim saints and scholars throughout the centuries.

Today, the university continues to function as an excellent school of religious and physical sciences, and the mosque is considered Morocco’s holiest place, governing the time of all Islamic festivals across the country. On your next visit to Fez, make sure you head into its old town and take your time discovering this magnificent treasure chest of history that has much more to it than meets the eye. (more…)

Fondouk el-Nejjarine in Fez, Morocco

An illustration of the Fondouk el-Nejjarine in Fez, Morocco showing the ancient woodwork and craftsmanship of this UNESCO city

The ancient city of Fez houses within its walls an exquisite collection of monuments and sights that showcase the rich history and traditions of the Moroccan people. One of these monuments is Fondouk el-Nejjarine: an 18th century roadside inn transformed into a museum dedicated to the wooden arts and crafts typical of Morocco.

Fondouk el-Nejjarine proves to be a unique experience that reveals the past and present simultaneously: while inside you’ll be able to view beautiful pieces of wooden art on display; once you step outside you’ll have the opportunity to witness modern-day carpenters chiseling and carving their own creations. (more…)

Medersa Bou Inania: A Moroccan Gem in Fez

Medersa Bou InaniaAlthough Sultan Abou Inan wasn’t the most pious of men (having killed his father, brutally murdered his rivals, and fathering over 300 offspring), he was able to devote some time towards developing one of Morocco’s most beautiful medersas, the magnificent Medersa Bou Inania (also known as Madrasa Bou Inania or simply Bu Inaniya). Built between 1351 and 1358, the medersa stands today as one of the most stunning examples of Merenid architecture in the world. Initially, it functioned as both an educational institute and a mosque. Today it is still an active religious building, and it is one of the few mosques in Morocco that remains open for all to visit, including those that are not Muslim, providing a unique experience for tourists. (more…)

A Wander in Fez

Blue Gate in FezI have a golden rule when in Fez; I never walk up either Tala’a Kbira, ‘big street’, or Tala’a Sghira, ‘little street’, I only ever walk down, working on the premise that my knees and stamina are nothing compared to those of the mules that provide much of the traffic in the Medina’s two main pedestrian arteries – and their muleteer’s, come to that. I consider the twenty dirham a taxi costs from Rcif at the bottom of the steep hill that is Fez el Bali to the Bab Boujloud, the principal entrance at the top, to be a very worthy investment. (more…)

Fez Festival of World Sacred Music 2012

Music Festival Fez MoroccoFor the past 18 years, the city of Fez, Morocco, has put on the Festival of World Sacred Music, dedicated to the traditions of knowledge, art and spirituality of the city. It began as a peace initiative following the first Gulf War but has since become an established part of the world music and art scene. This year’s event runs from June 8-16 at different venues in the city of Fez. The theme is “Re-enchanting the World,” and pays tribute to Persian poet Omar Khayyam.

Acts from around the world converge on Fez along with thousands of attendees there to pay homage to sacred music from around the globe. There is a heavy focus on Sufi music, however, music from all over the globe is represented. This year’s acts hail Hungary, Romania, Central Europe, Lebanon, Tunisia, India, Cuba, Pakistan, Iceland, Iran, Guinea, France, Morocco and the United States. Along with musical acts there are several poetry readings, poetry set to music and dancing troupes. (more…)

Visiting a Tannery in Fez

Traveling to Morocco, the ancient city of Fez and its medina can feel very foreign indeed. The walkways wind up and down through the hilly city, too narrow for cars or all but the slimmest of carts and carriages. The medina is much like it was hundreds of years ago; the pace and structure of life still follow the old rhythms. You can feel the age of the medina—and its history—with each step. Nowhere is this truer than in Fez’s tanneries.

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Day Trips from Fes

ruins at volubilis moroccoFez (also known as Fes) will charm you with its culture tucked into every tightly woven street corner, but it can be nice to escape—even when you’re enjoying this fascinating old city. If you’re aching to break through the city walls for a day, we’ve got you covered.

Some of the most popular day trips from Fes include Meknes and nearby Volubilis, as well as the capital of Morocco, Rabat. It’s time to plan your Morocco itinerary … you’ve got lots of places to explore! (more…)

Things to Do in Fez, Morocco

Panoramic View of Fez MoroccoLocated in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Fez serves as Morocco’s cultural and religious center. The stark contrast between the old city’s narrow lanes, where donkeys barely have enough clearance to pass pedestrians, and the Ville Nouvelle’s wide, tree-lined streets is striking for many travelers, and it is this juxtaposition of medieval and modern that makes Fez one of Morocco’s top tourist destinations.

Explore the Old Medina

The central place to enter Fez’s walled city is at the gate of Bab bu Jeloud; petite taxis can drop you off there. Before getting out of the taxi, decide if you want to explore the medina on your own or hire a guide, because, as soon as you open the car door, local tour guides, both official and non-official, will close in on you to offer their services. If you don’t have a map and don’t speak French or Arabic, it can be worth hiring a guide for a walking tour so you don’t get lost. (more…)

Fez: Soul Of Morocco

A trip through time is almost everybody’s dream. There is a time machine right at your fingertips, and it starts on the plane. The journey begins when you land in Morocco.  This little North African country sets on the modern side of history. Its roots, however, go way back to before the Romans and Phoenicians came. So let your Moroccan itinerary begin in the timeless setting of Fez. (more…)

The History of the Fez Medina

A unique, ancient, and appealing city, the Fez Medina in Morocco holds true to its definition that it once was a non-European city in Africa or the Middle East. In Morocco, medina simply means “city”. And, Fez has two: the Fes-el-Djedid (new), built in the 14th century and Fez-el-Bali (old), which was built towards the end of the late eighth century. Built by the first Muslim Dynasty, the Idrissids, the renowned medina sits on the banks of the Fez River. Locals claim that the Kairouiyine Mosque, constructed during the reign of Yahya ibn Muhammed, is one of the oldest in Africa. In 859, the University of Karueein, as it is now called, was officially founded, giving the Fez Medina one of the oldest universities in the world.

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