Morocco // Fez, Meknes and the Middle Atlas //

Fez el Bali

With its mosques, medersas and fondouks, back alleys crammed with goods-laden donkeys, and a mile-long labyrinth of souks, there are enough sights in Fez el Bali (Old Fez) to fill three or four days just trying to locate them. In this – the apparently wilful secretiveness – lies part of Fez’s fascination, and there is much to be said for Paul Bowles’ somewhat lofty advice to “lose oneself in the crowd – to be pulled along by it – not knowing where to and for how long…to see beauty where it is least likely to appear”. Do the same and you must be prepared to get really lost, but then that is half the fun – and it is all the more uplifting to stumble across the magnificent Medersa Bou Inania, or to unexpectedly find yourself on Rue Boutouail and realize that the courtyard you are peering into is that of the Kairaouine Mosque, the epicentre of religious life in Morocco.