The City Within: Fes el Bali A Six Photo Story

Story and photographs by Brenda J Pederson

March 2016

In the Medina of Fes, life is geared to the residents, not visitors. However, Fes has noticed how tourism is helping preserve the historical buildings of Marrakech and beginning to court outside investment and ownership of its historical sites, which will hopefully aid in preserving the beauty and artistry of the past.

Top: The minaret of the local mosque stands tall above the neighborhood. Left: The narrowest street in Fes el Bali; Right: One of the many mules in the medina;

Fes el Bali is the larger of two medinas within the city, the oldest sections built in the 9th century, the newest in the 12th. With over 10,000 narrow, winding "streets" it is believed to be one of the largest urban pedestrian zones in the world.

The streets are so narrow not even motorbikes, which are ubiquitous in most of Morocco, are allowed. Some of the passages are barely shoulder width. Mules are used to haul goods and have the right away over pedestrians. It is easy to get lost here - several times while wandering I ended up walking in circles. I was happy my first few days were with a group and a guide, allowing me to look around, instead of worrying about where I was.

Carpet sellers survey the crowd.

The medina is a collection of neighborhoods, with each having its own mosque and services. Some areas are known by the industry in that section. There's a tanning district, one for metalworkers, carpet sellers, and even a honey market! Wandering the streets you can watch artisans in action.

Men working in the dying vats of the tannery district.

The artisans employ techniques that have been used for years. Each piece is handcrafted and unique. As I wandered the streets I found myself drawn into the meticulous rhythms of the workers.

A man fashions copper into pots in the Fes copper district. The pots will be used by locals, as well as sold to tourists.

I barely cracked the surface of this ancient city during the several days I wandered the streets. Fes is a magical and historical place begging to be explored over and over again.

Created By
Brenda Pederson
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