Fès is spectacular, but not as immediately attractive as Marrakech. Unlike the capital of the South, a crossroads for caravans and peoples, Fès is more secretive, its old ways hidden behind the cliff-like walls of its alleyways. Its sights are not easily discovered and several days are really necessary to take in the city's atmosphere. Essentially, there are three main areas to visit:
Fès el Bali
, the oldest part of the city, a médina divided by the river into Adwa al Andalusiyin (the Andalucían quarter on the east bank) and Adwa al Qaraouiyine (the Qaraouiyine quarter on the west bank);
Fès el Jedid
, containing the royal palace and the mellah and founded under the Merinids, you need half a day; and the
ville nouvelle
, the city built by the French which has taken over many of the political, administrative and commercial functions of old Fès. You'd be well advised to save some energy to get up to the Borj Nord/Merinid tombs for views across Fès el Bali at sundown. While Fès el Jedid is fairly flat, Fès el Bali has long sloping streets. In the winter it can rain heavily, turning Talaâ Sghira and Talaâ Kbira into minor torrents. Many of the main sites are decayed and maintenance works to the monuments of Fès seem to last forever.

Note The word Fès in Arabic means axe - a possible reference to tools used in its construction.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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