Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fes with the Folks

Trying to get back at this blog. Been a BUSY month with February break, recouperating from break, report card comments and grades due, etc. So, I will now attempt to catch you up on some of the happenings...

The first weekend that Mom and Dad were here, we went to the Imperial City of Fes. This ancient city was established around the year 800. It is a living, breathing World Heritage site. It boasts the world's oldest university (yes, even before Cambridge, Oxford, etc.), Kairaouine University (and mosque).  There are 350 some mosques in the medina. The medina is divided into 'neighborhoods', and every neighborhood has a hammam (bath house), fountain, and mosque. We had an amazing tour guide, Hakim, who filled us with knowledge of Fes and this amazingly historic medina. We also toured with my good friends Jim and Luann, and friends of theirs from the Seattle area who were visiting. It was a great day, with lots of walking. I think in all, they said we probably walked close to 8 miles. We were tired and our legs felt like we walked that far, but inside those medina walls, winding through the narrow streets, it just doesn't seem that far. The medina is kind of like a big bowl, and we basically walked down to the belly of it and then back up. We were able to see this shape the next day when we went to some panoramic viewing sites on the edge of the city. While in the medina, we saw where they make scarves, blankets, etc. using the old school looms. We also went to the tannery, where they still stretch, dry, and dye the leather hides used for making all sorts of things. Learning about the amazing history of Fes along the way made it a fabulous way to start the vacation!
The 'Blue Gate', one of the entrances into the medina in Fes.

Above is a weight-powered water clock, which was finished on 6 May 1357. According to Wikipedia:  The clock consists of 13 windows and platforms carrying brass bowls. The motion of the clock was presumably maintained by a kind of small cart which ran from left to right behind the twelve doors. At one end, the cart was attached to a rope with a hanging weight; at the other end to a rope with a weight that floated on the surface of a water reservoir that was drained at a regular pace. Each hour one of the doors opened; at the same time a metal ball was dropped into one of the twelve brass bowls. The rafters sticking out of the building above the doors  supported a small roof to shield the doors and bowls.

Carved plaster work, calligraphy, and zelij tile work. Intricate & beautiful...

This is the medina bread maker. Or at least one of them. Families bring their bread to him, with a family mark on it. He then bakes it and keeps track of whose is whose bread and it gets delivered back to them. And yes, he has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

One shop full of dried fruits, dates, nuts, figs, etc. The dried pineapple was amazing! I love how they arrange the food into pyramid like designs.

Our tour took us to see some weaving. They then dressed us in scarves. We didn't necessarily buy the ones we were wearing, but made purchases nonetheless.

Man working the loom, making a thin blanket.

We visited the leather tanneries on our tour. This is from a shop up above, looking down on the vats they use for dying the leather hides. This was so amazing to see. When we walked in, they gave us mint plants to sniff because the smell at the tanneries is unbearable at times. It wasn't so bad this day, but the mint was nice anyway.

This gives you an idea of the 'bowl' shape of the medina. The tannery is somewhat at the 'bottom' of the medina. Those are hides drying on the roof of the building where those kids are running around.

Me knocking on the King's palace door.  :)

Zellij is the tilework that is quite famous in Morocco. We went to visit a zellij 'factory' of sorts, which is really a bunch of guys hand making pottery and little tile pieces. Absolutely amazing. In the pictures, you will see how they craft each individual piece and then lay out the design with the colored side of the tiles down. Once this is done, they then fill it with concrete to create the table, or fountain, or whatever the piece is.

Table top. Imagine laying out each of those tiles individually... wowza!
Large, beautiful, hand-crafted fountain.
View of the countryside surrounding Fes


  1. It's still hard for Keith & I to believe we were there, it was soooo amazing. Keep up the blogging, Jodee, you're doing great!!!!!

  2. Glad you enjoyed your stay here. It really is an amazing country. :)