Monday, March 10, 2014

back in time

Fes el Bali is the oldest walled part of Fes, Morocco. Fes el Bali was originally founded as the capital of the Idrisid dynasty between 789 and 808 AD. Besides being famous for having the oldest university in the world Fes el Bali, with a total population of 156 000, is also believed to be the biggest car-free urban area in the world. UNESCO listed Fes el Bali as a world heritage site in 1981 under the name Medina of Fez. The world heritage site includes Fes el Bali's urban fabric and walls as well as a buffer zone outside of the walls that is intended to preserve the visual integrity of the location. Fes el Bali is, along with Fes Jdid and the French-created Ville nouvelle, one out the 3 main districts in Fes. (source: Wikipedia)

Our first stop in the medina is the Madrasa Bou Inania a madrasa (koranic school) in Fes, Morocco, founded in AD 1351–56 by the Abu Inan Faris. It is widely acknowledged as an excellent example of Marinid architecture. The madrasa functioned both as an educational institute and as a congregational mosque. This is the only madrasa in Fes with a minaret. Opposite the main doorway of the madrasa is the entrance to the dar al-wudu (ablutions house). Left and right of the central court there are class rooms. The madrasa was renovated in the 18th century. During the reign of Sultan Mulay Sliman, entire sections were reconstructed. In the 20th century, major restoration work was performed on the load-bearing structure, the plaster, wood and decorations. The madrasa is one of the few religious places in Morocco that is accessible for non-Islamic visitors. Because it is still a functioning mosque we rushed there before it closed and then sort of started over but first some photos of this exquisite plaster and tile work-

the piece of wood on top of the minarets always points to Mecca - so that those who cannot get to the mosque to pray may do so elsewhere safe in the knowledge of which direction to bow in...

we exit back to the narrow lanes of the Medina-

from here we head to the workshop where we are shown both ceramics and the process of making the mosaic tiles and designs...

next we took in the view over the medina from a fortress on the hill nearby- our hotel is on the left side of the photo in roughly the middle top to bottom- with the green roofs-

then we headed back to the blue gate to start our explorations - Aziz has been thoughtful and created a mostly downhill exploration of the Medina for us.  I am most grateful since I had my left knee drained and a cortisone injection just two weeks earlier to help ease the arthritis (really annoying thing about getting older LOL)

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