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Local men working at the Tannery in Fez

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Fez City Tour

A guided tour of Fez is an absolute must. More so than any city, there is a real danger of getting lost in the medina if not orientated, and also of missing some of the key sights of the city.

Fez City Tour, Morocco

A guided tour of Fez is an absolute must. More so than any city, there is a real danger of getting lost in the medina if not orientated, and also of missing some of the key sights of the city.

A guided tour will take you through the winding alleys and ferret out these sights. They include the Zaouia (sanctuary) of Moulay Idriss II. Founder of Fez, he rapidly achieved cult-status not long after his death. The cult was suppressed by subsequent dynasties but resurfaced in the 14th century. Although you cannot enter the shrine, it is possible to stand near one of the entrances and peer in past kneeling supplicants to the edge of the tomb, a large block shrouded in green.

Another Islamic monument that can be glimpsed but not entered, is the Kairaouiyne Mosque. It was founded by refugees from Kairaouiyne in Tunisia in the 10th century, and is now so much part of the city that its shape cannot be distinguished, so many buildings have been built onto its walls. Even from above only the courtyard areas and minaret are easily distinguished. Standing by the doors, rows of those at prayer draw the eye into the open courtyards with their ornate fountains, surrounded by elegant pillars.

The Attarine Medressah is an Islamic monument that may be entered. A medressah is a college or center of Koranic study attached to a mosque, and normally consists of a number of cells clustered around a courtyard. The Attarine Medressah is not very big but is exquisite in the use of carved wooden screens and alabaster, delicate zellij tile-work and cooling marble surrounds.

An altogether more earthy and secular surprise awaits when you suddenly duck off the street into a shop selling leather goods. As much as you may fear you are about to be subject to a hard sell, this isn't the reason for entering: you pass through the shop and out onto a terrace at the back, overlooking the tannery.

Tanning hides has been done in exactly the same manner for centuries. The hides are first treated in vats of urine and pigeon excreta (an overwhelming smell, be warned) and then put into vats of differing colors of dye. Workers trample slowly back and forth in the vats, up to their thighs in goodness knows what. It is one of the best photo opportunities in Fez, with the multitude of vats and dyes contrasting with whitewashed walls all around, draped in drying hides.

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Other experiences in Fez

These activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences around where you're staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident's eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can suggest tours and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the local ways of life.