Visiting Morocco Fes and Meknes
The official Arabic name of Morocco translates to “Kingdom of the West” whereas today’s English name is based on Marrakesh, it’s capital under the Almoravid dynasty and Almohad Caliphate. The first Moroccan state was founded by Idris in 788 AD. Over 60% of the 36 million inhabitants live in cities, 90% speak Arabic and almost 99% are Muslims. The Moroccan–American Treaty of Friendship, signed in 1786, stands as the U.S.’s oldest non-broken friendship treaty.
Visiting Morocco using Fès airport, Fès-Saïss is a good idea as it allows you to pass official border procedures rather quickly, in contrast to Casablanca airport. Prices for a taxi to Fès (about 13 km) cost 160 dirhams (DH).
Fès is the oldest imperial and today’s second-largest city (after Casablanca) in Morocco. Today, the city largely consists of two old medina quarters, Fes el Bali and Fes Jdid, and modern part, called Ville Nouvelle constructed during the French colonial era. Fès Medina is one of the world’s largest, with more than 4,000 narrow streets, only used by pedestrians, hand carts, donkeys, and occasional motorbikes.
One can easily get lost in this maze and thus I do recommend hiring a local guide while visiting morocco (ask at your hotel).
The Chouara Tannery, located in the Fes el Bali, the oldest Medina quarter of Fès, one of the oldest tanneries in the world, still using only human labor and the same ancient techniques to produce leather.
You also find here the University of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in 859 is the oldest continuously operating university in the world teaching Islamic religious and legal sciences. Fès has been called the “Mecca of the West” and “Athens of Africa”.
To really experience life in Medina style while visiting Morocco, we stayed at Riad Arabesque.
A dream of One Thousand and One Nights comes true!
Alongside Fès, Marrakech, and Rabat, Meknès is one of the four imperial cities of Morocco. Meknès is a small administrative center (capital of delegation) and a marketing center for agricultural products of olive products, fruits and wine from the surrounding area.
Restaurant Salma, next to the Royal Golf you can enjoy a typical Moroccan lunch, presented as you might imagine in a fairy tale.
The city is also know for breeding purebred Arabian horses and the associated annual festival.
The view from the terrace gives you the feeling of being part of local life!
Not far, just outside of the wall, you can find Ladim Square, full of entertaining presentations of an oriental kind, a meeting point of the Medina and the imperial city with access to the souk. The narrow streets around Ladim Square are brimming with clothing, footwear, bags, and other accessories that are sprawled across stalls and hang from crowded displays.
Household items, both practical and decorative, are available in abundance, including pottery, tea sets, crockery, tagine pots, carpets, cushion covers, mirrors, lamps, and more. There’s also a large selection of kids’ toys and gimmicky items. This is perhaps the best souk in the city for finding an assortment of souvenirs and trinkets. Around the edges of the actual square, you’ll also find several foods and juice sellers.
Visiting the Médina of Meknès, with its beautiful labyrinth of narrow streets, is absolutely worthwhile and entertaining.
While visiting Morocco, I recommend the fascinating archeological site from ancient Morocco near Meknès originating from the 3rd century BC as a Berber, then Carthaginian settlement, growing significantly under Roman rule from the 1st century AD onward.
On the way back to Meknès, passing through lots of olive tree plants, it is strongly recommended to visit Domaine De La Zouina,
which grows and produces excellent wines and olive products.
The vineyard: on 115 hectares, the noblest grape varieties have been chosen: syrah, cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo for the reds; chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sauvignon gris, viognier, and Vermentino for whites; Caladoc, mourvèdre and marselan for grays and rosés. In total 600,000 bottles per year.
Olive trees: Around 4000 trees, Menara and Picholine varieties, have been planted at the beginning of the 20th century. The trees protect the grapes from the Sharqi, dry and dusty wind of up to 80 km/h, during April and early June.
The olives are harvested by hand, sorted and crushed cold within four hours of harvest. The oil is of very high quality: Volubilia Extra Virgin was awarded in 2006 the best olive oil in the world and in 2008 the best foreign olive oil by the Italian guides, L’Extravergine and Flos Olei.
The winery: The cellar is equipped with equipment worthy of the greatest Bordeaux wines: cold room, sorting tables, gravity process, vertical presses, small concrete tanks … everything is done to preserve the integrity of the harvest, protect its aromas and avoid oxidation phenomena. The whites are aged more than 4 months and bottled at the end of winter; the reds over 15 months and bottled at the end of the fall. Great cuvées (Epicuria chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, syrah) are fermented and matured in barrels.
FIJET – Media Impact Days
This trip was made possible by FIJET – Media Impact Days between January 17 – 19, 2020 in Meknès organized by the Prefectural Tourism Council of Meknes. The days gave a rich presentation of the historical and cultural heritage of the medieval city, the city of 100 minarets: Meknès. Thank you very much!
Fès Travel Guide – Regional Council of Tourism of Fès.
Meknes Travel Guide – web site and application for IOS and Android mobile phones.
Author: Wilfried Bergmann
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