Exploring Medina of Fez.
by Sandra Jordan
Stepping into the Fez Medina is like stepping back in time.
Founded in the 9th century and home to the oldest university in the world, the ancient Medina of Fez was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1981. It is both the world’s largest living Islamic medieval city and the largest pedestrianised area in the world.
Visiting the Medina is an assault on the senses, a warren of more than 9.000 lanes, alleyways and dead-end streets alongside covered bazaars fit to bursting with aromatic food stands, craft workshops, mosques and an endless parade of people, men riding mules, donkeys heavily laden with goods and porters with carts. To be honest it terrified me at first and I spent the first afternoon hiding away in my Riad. One week later, having traipsed the streets, met the locals, tasted the food and, thanks to my amazing guide, seen a lot of Fez that the tourists just don’t get to see, I was totally in love with this city.
One of the interesting sites in Fez is the Leather Souq and the oldest leather tannery in the world - little has changed since medieval times, Tanners still stand knee-deep in pits of cow urine, pigeon poo and other chemicals to clean, cure and dye the hides. Leather produced in Fez has for centuries been highly prized as among the finest in the world.
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