Up above Bab Guissa, the crumbling remnants of the Merenid tombs stand vigil over the sprawling Medina, a particularly atmospheric place at dawn or dusk, when the call to prayer sweeps across Fez el Bali. From this superb vantage point you can delineate the more prominent of Fez’s reputed 365 mosque minarets. At sunset, the sky swarms with a frenzy of starlings, egrets and alpine swifts adding further spectacle to the scene. All around you are spread the Muslim cemeteries that flank the hills on each side of Fez, while below, the city’s major monuments protrude from the hubbub of rooftops. The pyramid-shaped roof of the Zaouia of Moulay Idriss II is easily defined. To its left are the two minarets of the Kairaouine Mosque: Burj en Naffara or the Trumpeter’s Tower (the shorter of the two) and the original minaret. The latter, slightly thinner in its silhouette than usual and with an unusual whitewashed dome, is the oldest Islamic monument in the city, built in 956 AD.

The sounds of the city, the stillness and the contained disorder below all seem to make manifest the mystical significance that Islam places on urban life as the most perfect expression of culture and society.

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