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Fes (Morocco)
Basic data
State : MoroccoMorocco Morocco
Region : Fès-Meknes
Prefecture : Fez
Coordinates 34 ° 3 ′  N , 5 ° 0 ′  W Coordinates: 34 ° 3 ′  N , 5 ° 0 ′  W
Residents : 1,112,072 (2014)
Area : 89 km²
Population density : 12,495 inhabitants per km²
Height : 410  m
Postal code : 30000-30206
City administration website :
Mayor : Idriss Azami Al Idrissi
Image from Fez
Image from Fez

Fez or Fez ( Arabic فاس, DMG Fās , Zentralatlas-Tamazight ⴼⴰⵙ Fas ) is the third largest city in Morocco with around one million inhabitants . It is the oldest of the four royal cities in the country (also Marrakech , Meknes and Rabat ) and was considered the spiritual center of the region after the establishment of the Qarawiyin University. Fès is the capital of the Fès-Meknes region , one of the 12 regions of Morocco.


Fès is located 60 kilometers east of Meknes in the irrigated, fertile lowlands of Sais. The small town of Moulay Idris in the foothills of the Zerhoun massif in the west is similarly far from Fez. The national road 8 (route impériale), the old caravan route, leads south along the western edge of the Middle Atlas via Azrou (80 kilometers) to Marrakech . On a side road a little further east, at the end of the Sais plain, after 30 kilometers near Sefrou, the ascent to the barren hills of the Middle Atlas begins . Of the two roads in an easterly direction, one leads to Taza, 100 kilometers away on the southern edge of the Rif Mountains , the other to the center of the mountains in the Taounate province .


The name is said to refer to Fas (Fès), “hoe” in Arabic, the discovery or use of this device when the city was founded.

The city "Medinat Fas" was founded by Idris I in 789 on the site of what is now the Andalusian quarter . In 809 Idris II founded "al-Aliya" on the other (left) bank of the Wadi Fez. Al-Aliya quickly developed into a real city with a mosque, palace and Kisariya (market hall). The vital water sources around Fès, which were famous and sung about early on, were certainly a decisive criterion when choosing the location for the future metropolis .

The further development of the city is due to two waves of immigration. From 817–818, 8,000 Andalusian families, expelled from Spain by the Umayyads of Córdoba , settled in the city. Shortly thereafter, 2,000 families were exiled from Kairouan ( Tunisia ) and settled in the opposite district.

The newcomers bring with them great technical and manual skills as well as experience in urban life and a city-centered life and contribute significantly to Fez developing into the cultural center and religious heart of Morocco.

The university mosque " al-Qarawiyin ", founded in 859 by the rich merchant's daughter Fatima el-Fihrya, becomes one of the most important centers of clergy and culture in Islam . Its radiation has an impact on the schools of Islamic Spain as far as Europe . The Arab historian Ibn Chaldūn also taught here.

The favorable location of Fès at the crossroads of important trade routes in the middle of a generous natural region with basic raw materials for handicrafts (stone, wood, clay) played a decisive role in the rapid upswing of the new city. Of particular importance were the caravan routes between the Atlantic and the central and eastern Maghreb as well as the Mediterranean and Black Africa via the large trading town of Sidschilmasa (disappeared since the 17th century) in Tafilalt (today the region of Rissani / Erfoud).

In 1033 there was a pogrom against the Jewish population of the city with 6,000 dead.

The two parts of the city were already united in the Middle Ages, whereby the dividing wall was broken through. Fès lost its capital status after the Almoravid founding of Marrakech in the 11th century and regained it after it was captured by the Merinids in 1250.

In 1276, under the rule of the Merinids, the new city of El Medinet El-Beida ("the white city") was founded and equipped with enclosing walls, palaces and gardens. It soon became known as Fès el Jedid ("the new Fez"), in contrast to Fès el Bali, the old city. The Jewish population of Fès el Bali was forcibly relocated near the new palace complex around 1325. The Mellah ( comparable to a ghetto in which the Jews live under the protection of the Sultan , see also Dhimma ) was built on the site of a former garrison quarter for Syrian archers.

At the beginning of the 14th century (the height of Hispano-Moorish art) the city experienced its great boom. The University of Fez (Qairawin) was world famous during this period. Connected to the port of Badis on the Rif Mountains via a caravan track, Fez was in constant contact with Islamic Spain and Europe. In 1471 the city fell into the hands of the Wattasid dynasty .

After the city was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1522 , many buildings were restored or replaced by new ones.

Royal Palace "Dar El Makhzen "

The Saadians , an Arab tribal association that had settled in southern Morocco in the Draa Valley and from there conquered the country in the 16th century, took the city in 1554, but made Marrakech their capital. Fès was guarded by two fortresses built in European style ('Borj-Nord' and 'Borj-Sud'). In 1626 the Saadians lost the city to the Dila Brotherhood .

At the beginning of the Alavid dynasty (late 17th century), Mulai Ismail established his new capital in Meknes . He settled part of the Udaia clan in Fez, which had helped him in his power struggle. After his death (1727) the Udaia revolted, but they were not expelled from the city until 1833 by Abd er Rahman. Mulai Abdallah, the successor to Mulai Ismail, made Fez his residence and had mosques, madrasas , bridges and roads renewed or built; the streets of Fès el Jedid were paved.

In the 19th century, the two old parts of the city were connected by new buildings such as the Boujeloud Palace. Fez remained the capital of Morocco until the beginning of the protectorate in 1912 , when Rabat was designated the administrative seat of French Morocco by a French general . Nevertheless, the king continued to reside in Fez and to this day he often stays in the palace there. Even after Rabat has been declared the official Moroccan capital, Fez remains an important royal residence and a center of culture, handicrafts and trade.


Medina of Fez
UNESCO world heritage UNESCO World Heritage Emblem

Blue Gate in Fes.jpg
Blue Gate ( Bab Bou Jeloud )
National territory: MoroccoMorocco Morocco
Type: Culture
Criteria : (ii) (v)
Surface: 280 ha
Reference No .: 170
UNESCO region : Arabic states
History of enrollment
Enrollment: 1981  ( session 5 )

The old town, a prime example of the oriental city, has been protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1981 . In terms of area, it should be the world's largest medieval old town. The deep blue of the ceramics is one of the symbols of Fès, next to the green roofs of the sacred buildings, which shape the image of the city from a bird's eye view.

Today, Fès consists of three districts, each of which can be assigned to an era in the city's history:

The old town , (Fès el Bali / el Medina el Qadima), consists of the district around the Qarawiyīn mosque or university, which was the center of public life after it was founded in 859. It is enclosed by the city wall. In the Saadian times, the two citadels (Borj Nord and Borj Sud) were also built, which are located on the hills above the old town.

The medieval new town (Fes el Jedid) goes back to the Merinid dynasty (1244–1465) who declared Fez the capital of their empire from 1248 onwards. The focus is on the Royal Palace and the Jewish Quarter ( Mellah ).

The Ville Nouvelle was built at the instigation of Marshal Lyautey and according to the plans of the French architect Henri Prost during the Protectorate as a new city near the fortress Dar Debibagh south of Fès el Jedid. Initially created as a residential area for the Europeans, the "Ville Nouvelle" developed further as a modern Arab city with newer residential areas. Authorities, institutions and service providers have settled here. The Ville Nouvelle now represents the largest part of the city in terms of area and population and the obligatory promenade (Boulevard Hassan II., Avenue Mohammed V). There are also the largest cinemas (Empire, Rex) and a McDonald's branch with a view of the green hills between the old town and Ville Nouvelle.

Old town of Fez, seen from the north


The following population development for the urban area of ​​Fès results from censuses.

year Residents
1971 325,327
1982 448,823
1994 772.184
2004 946.815
2012 1,072,468
2014 1,112,072
year Mean change in population per year Relative change per year
1971-1982 11,227 2.9%
1982-1994 26,947 4.4%
1994-2004 17,463 2.0%
2004–2012 15,707 1.6%

The 2012 figures result from a calculation based on rates of change derived from the censuses.


Mausoleum "Moulay Idris II"

Religious life is shaped by the numerous mosques in the old town, first and foremost by the Qarawiyīn mosque , around whose buildings the old town has grown. The second religious center is the mausoleum of Idris II (Maqabir Moulay Idris), who is considered to be one of the founders of the city and state. Outside the city walls are the cemeteries and the Merinid graves. There are also numerous smaller pilgrimage sites around Fez (e.g. Sidi Harazem), which are particularly popular when the weather is nice for the cult of saints or for family outings.

In the Ville Nouvelle there are some Christian communities, including a Roman Catholic church that dates back to the French colonial times and is used fairly well today. In the old Jewish quarter (Mellah) there are two synagogues, of which at least one, the Aben-Danan Synagogue , is still held regularly. The number of remaining Jews for 2006 was given as 300.


View into the courtyard of the Kairaouine Mosque

Since schooling is compulsory for boys and girls in Morocco, state elementary and secondary schools can be found all over the city. In the old town you can still come across individual Koran schools (Kutab, Medersa ), but many of them have been closed due to the decline in students in recent decades and can now be visited as museums.

The Qarawiyin University , founded in 859, is one of the oldest Islamic universities after the University of Ez-Zitouna and one of the world's oldest continuously used educational institutions.

In the higher education sector, in addition to the traditional Qarawiyin University in the Ville Nouvelle, since 1975 there have also been institutions of the nationwide Université Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah (Fac), which, according to its claim, is a modern full university. The Institut français offers French courses and cultural events (e.g. a film festival). In addition, there are numerous private educational institutions that advertise the acquisition of key qualifications (languages, business and IT skills).


A 16 km long ring road directs traffic around the city. Public buses and red taxis (petit taxis ), which are very popular, run between the districts and in the Ville Nouvelle .

The larger cities can be reached via the rail network to which the Fez train station is connected. City traffic to the smaller towns is via white taxis (grand taxis ), which can seat up to seven people.

Fès has an international airport, Fès-Saïss Airport , which is served from German-speaking countries from Bremen (from November 2017), Hahn , Memmingen and Niederrhein airports .

There are no cars in the old town (Fès el Bali) . Occasionally younger Moroccans drive through the streets on motorized two-wheelers, but traffic is usually limited to four-legged pack animals (mules, donkeys) and fully loaded pull carts. These should be strictly observed when staying in the old town in order to avoid a collision.


Alley in the souks

In the last few decades tourism has increased and has become an important economic factor. Even today there is a lively souk in Fez , which is divided into different areas, including a. Wood, ceramic, metal, leather souk. Because of the enormous amount of space there are no cars in the city center. Some alleys and passages are only 50 cm wide.


Bab as-Semmarine
Traditional tannery and dyeing in Fez

Fes el Bali

  • Bab Mahrouk (13th century gate), Bab Chorfa (14th century), Bab Boujeloud (20th century)
  • Tala Kebira ('main street' with trade and handicraft businesses)
  • Medersa Bou Inania (14th century)
  • Place Nejjarin with Fondouk (18th century; Museum of Wood Carving)
  • Medersa Attarine (14th century)
  • Kairaouine district (trade and craft businesses)
  • Zaouia Idris II (grave mosque of the 2nd city founder)
  • Tanners Quarter
  • Dar Batha Museum (formerly Vizier Palace)

Fes el Jedid

  • Royal Palace (only from the outside)
  • Bab Semmarin et al. Mellah (Jewish Quarter)
  • Synagogues and Jewish cemetery (on request)


  • Borj Nord (16th century; weapons museum)
  • Merinid tombs (14th century; ruins and view over the city)
  • Borj Sud (16th century; view over the city)

Twin cities

Fès has 21 municipal partnerships with the following cities:

city country since
al-Quds Palastina autonomous areasPalestine Palestine 1982
Barcelona SpainSpain Spain 2009
Bobo Dioulasso Burkina FasoBurkina Faso Burkina Faso 2005
Cartagena ColombiaColombia Colombia 1993
Coimbra PortugalPortugal Portugal 1988
Cordoba SpainSpain Spain 1989
Djenné MaliMali Mali 1997
Florence ItalyItaly Italy 1963
Izmir TurkeyTurkey Turkey 1995
Kairouan TunisiaTunisia Tunisia 1965
Krakow PolandPoland Poland 1986
Lahore PakistanPakistan Pakistan 1988
Loja SpainSpain Spain 2005
Montpellier FranceFrance France 2003
Nablus Palastina autonomous areasPalestine Palestine 1990
Ngaparou SenegalSenegal Senegal 2009
Rufisque SenegalSenegal Senegal 2007
Saint-Etienne FranceFrance France 2006
Saint-Louis SenegalSenegal Senegal 1981
Strasbourg FranceFrance France 1999
Suwon Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea 2003
Trarza MauritaniaMauritania Mauritania 2009

sons and daughters of the town

Climate table

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Source: wetterkontor.de
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Fez
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 15.0 17.5 19.9 22.1 26.0 31.2 35.7 35.8 31.5 26.1 20.2 16.1 O 24.8
Min. Temperature (° C) 4.5 5.3 7.7 9.4 11.9 15.2 17.9 18.1 16.0 12.4 8.5 5.7 O 11.1
Precipitation ( mm ) 80 72 71 64 37 12 1 3 15th 36 61 85 Σ 537
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 5.0 6.6 7.1 8.1 8.5 10.0 11.3 10.5 8.6 7.4 5.6 4.3 O 7.8
Rainy days ( d ) 7th 8th 8th 8th 5 2 0 0 1 4th 6th 7th Σ 56
Humidity ( % ) 79 76 73 71 68 60 58 56 58 64 70 75 O 67.3
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Source: wetterkontor.de


  • Titus Burckhardt : Fes, city of Islam. Urs Graf, Olten / Freiburg 1960. New edition 2015, with an afterword by Navid Kermani , CH Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-68288-9
  • Arnold Betten: Morocco. Antiquity, Berber Traditions and Islam - History, Art and Culture in the Maghreb. DuMont, Ostfildern 1998, ISBN 3-7701-3935-6 , pp. 168ff.
  • Simon O'Meara: Space and Muslim Urban Life: At the Limits of the Labyrinth of Fez. Routledge, London & New York 2007, ISBN 978-0-415-38612-8

Web links

Commons : Fès  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Fez  - travel guide

Individual evidence

  1. Fez population development
  2. Israr Hasan, Believers and Brothers. A History of Uneasy Relationship (Bloomington 2009) p. 99.
  3. Population figures . Statistics. In: bevoelkerungsstatistik.de. Retrieved May 1, 2013 .
  4. Morocco: Regions, Cities, Urban Communities & Urban Centers - Population Statistics, Maps, Graphics, Weather and Web Information. Retrieved January 6, 2019 .
  5. ^ Richard Gold: Jewish Community in Morocco. In: M. Avrum Ehrlich (Ed.): Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture. Vol. 2, Part 1. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara (Ca) 2009, p. 481
  6. ^ Accords de Jumelages et de coopérations de la ville de Fès. Retrieved June 3, 2016 .