The City of Fez (Part 1)

 

For the weekend, I was lucky enough to venture in one of the oldest and authentic cities in Morocco, Fez. The 13th century Fez el Jdid (the new Fez) is one of the oldest imperial cities that is filled with reconstructions of riads, the royal palace, Jewish quarter and the madina. After a very long and humid bus ride from Rabat to Fez, we had arrived at Hotel Bathe. As we were driving along the streets of Fez, it seemed very similar to Rabat. I started to believe that all the talk of how beautiful Fez was just nonsense. I can definitely say I was very wrong. Right when we stepped out of the bus to check into Hotel Batha, I was memorised. The outside of the hotel did not do any justice to how it looked inside. As I had stepped inside the hotel, the design of it was astonishing.  The hotel was designed with small tile patterns of different shades of blue and green. As I went further into the hotel there was a stunning fountain surrounded by geometric and colourful patterns. From every painting to every room in the hotel it was creatively designed to illustrate the culture and architecture of Fez.

As soon as we checked into the hotel and freshened up, we were all starving at this point. Dr. Amster had decided that we must try out a restaurant called café clock. Before we visited the café we got to walk through the madina of Fez. The entrance of the old city is called the Bab Boujloud, known as the blue gate. This gate was memorising as it was designed with blue Fassi tiles on the outside and green tiles on the inside that were in patterns of stars and swirls. This gate was definitely a great way to begin our tour in Fez. The madina of Fez was nothing compared to the madina of Rabat. Let’s just say it was much crowded, louder and animated. From every street and alley the Madina was filled with variant shops, from meat markets to Qafṭān (a robe or tunic often worn as a coat or overdress that usually reaches to the ankles, with long sleeves). Excited to fill our stomachs with food, we decided to head to café clock. Café clock adds a modern twist to the Moroccan culture as it introduces unique dishes like camel burgers or Tariq’s Taza style cheesecake. Not only was this café very different it’s certainly a recommendation. The restaurant had many vegetarian and vegan options which were absolutely one of the highlights that day. The traditional and modernised combination had positively exceeded my expectation.

As we filled our stomachs with amazing food, we started to head towards the International Institute for Languages and Cultures where we had a lecture on Sufism in Morocco by Professor Sadiq Reddad. Fez is well known as the divine capital in Morocco with a strong Sufi tradition. Mentioned in Dr. Amster’s readings, Sufi saints are known to be “public healers” for the community. In Morocco, Sufi saint healers objectify the human body as a bridge between divinity and materiality. The human body is a vessel for the divine spirit and an isthmus (passage) [barzakh] of god and the universe. “We will show them Our Signs in the horizons, and with themselves, and of his reflection (tashbih); God has a ‘face’ and ‘two hands’ and created Adam in His own image”, the Qu’ran cites God’s revelation (ayat).

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