Why the name Fes?
The origin of the word Fez comes from the Arabic word, “fa’as” The word “fa’as” means Pickaxe. Which is believed to be the tool that ‘Idris I’ used when he created the lines of the city; when ‘Mawla Idris’ entered Morocco with his army running away from the Abbasids persecution he stroke the place where they landed with his axe in order to determine where to start building the city. Fez was the capital city of modern Morocco until 1925 and is now the capital of the Fès-Meknès administrative region. It is divided into three parts: Fes Al Bali, which is the old city, Fes Jdid, and the French-created Ville nouvelle.
The History of Fes:
Fes is considered the second largest city in Morocco and it was founded on a bank of the Jawhar River by Idris I in 789. The city held an Arabic character because of the emigration of Andalusia families expelled from Cordoba after their rebellion against the Umayyads of Andalusia and because of the emigration of Arab families banned from Kairouan.
Fes city is considered an essential part of Moroccan history. Tens of Arab families were displaces and settled in Fes establishing the first neighborhood called Al Qarawiyyn. In addition, Al Andalusians who were displaced from Andalusia settled in what was later called Al Andalusians neighborhood. Al Mallah section was the place where Jewish have settled.
When ‘Idris I’ died, his son built the second city on the left bank of the river. The city was still divided into two cities until Yusuf Ibn Tashfin entered the city and order to unite the two cities, and so the city was united during the Almoravid dynasty. Yusuf Ibn Tashfin is thought of as a second founder of Fes because the city had become a military base, a religious, scientific and cultural center at his age.
Fez is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination and many non-Moroccans are now restoring traditional houses (riads and dars) as second homes in the Fez medina. The most important monuments in the city are:
Al Mohad Walls
The city is known for its fascinating monuments and doors. The most important monuments include Fez Al Bali walls, which were built during Al Naser Al Mowahed Caliphate. Theses Al Mohad walls exist to this day as the outline of Fes Al Bali. Those walls were constructed after the destruction of the Idrisid city walls cover much wider space. The walls are a part of the World Heritage Site as well as the buffer zone outside the walls.
Al-Attarine Madrasa is located in the north of Al Qarawiyyin mosque at Fes city. Despite its small space, it is one of the most beautiful schools in the Arabic world. Its exquisite decoration makes it a rare architectural masterpiece. The Marinid sultan Uthman II Abu Said built it.
The madrasa takes its name from the Souk al-Attarine, the spice and perfume market. The school consists of an open courtyard with a water basin, surrounded by a square prayer hall and halls designed to accommodate students and teachers. The decoration of the walls, which are decorated with the exposed saucer, summarizes all the techniques adopted by the Moroccan artists in decorating their monuments. The decorations of the Madrasa show great artistry in dealing with various materials, most importantly wood, stone and ceramic mosaics known as glazes and jars.
In 859, the University of Al – Qarawiyyin was built. The university is considered the oldest exiting, still operating university in the world. In addition, it had been classified as the first degree awarding educational institution according to the UNISCO and Guinness world records. The education at the university concentrates mainly on Islamic, religious and legal sciences.
This fortress, which is located north of Fez Al Bali in 1582, was built by the Saadian. Its design is derived from Portuguese castles dating back to the 16th century. It is currently home to the Museum of weapons.
Ibn Danan Synagogue:
Is a synagogue in Fes, Morocco, dating from the 17th century. The construction of the temple dates back to the Moroccan monarch Rashid ben Ali al-Sharif, who wished to revive trade in the city. He brought the Jews of the corner of Ait Ishaq, located in the Mediterranean Atlas and ordered Rabbi Maimon Poseidan, one of the dignitaries of Ait Ishaq, to build the synagogue.
The synagogue was once one of the several inside walls of Fes. It is entered through a simple doorway indistinguishable from the doors of nearby houses. The door leads immediately to a short flight of stairs that lead into the high, rectangular space of the synagogue. The construction is masonry coated with plaster. The wooden ceiling is beamed and painted and a small window in the walls gives light to the room. The large Torah Ark, a cupboard filling the width of an entire wall, is made of carved wood. The wall above is decorated with intricately carved plasterwork. Opposite the Torah Ark is a raised alcove, separated from the main prayer space by a wooden screen elaborately carved with a series of arches. It was intended as a seating area for the congregations more distinguished members. The bimah, which is an elevated platform used for Torah reading during services in Jewish synagogues, is accessed from this space, constructed as a small platform cantilevered out form the raised area. A wrought iron canopy of Islamic-style arches and floral forms, culminating in a crown, tops the wooden bimah.
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Many people do think that because it is not the capital city anymore, Fes has lost its charm; however, this cannot be true since it is still believed to be a flourishing city of the eastern Mediterranean and still bears a historic and cultural influence. What has been written in this essay is just a little spark of the Great Moroccan diamond. If you want to read more, share this essay and follow us for further pleasurable readings.