Fez, Morocco

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**Historical Development**:
– Fez was founded in 789 by Idris I, the founder of the Idrisid dynasty.
– The city saw the establishment of settlements like al-ʿĀliyā and Madinat Fas.
– Fez was ruled by various dynasties like the Zenata Maghrawa tribe, Almoravids, Almohads, Marinids, Saadis, and Alawis.
– Each dynasty left its mark on Fez through architectural developments, fortifications, and intellectual advancements.
– Fez underwent periods of neglect and revival under different rulers, shaping its current architectural landscape.

**Architectural and Urban Highlights**:
– Fez consists of two medina quarters, Fes el-Bali and Fes Jdid, alongside a modern urban area.
– The Medina of Fez is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest car-free urban zones globally.
– Notable structures in Fez include the University of al-Qarawiyyin, the Chouara Tannery, and various madrasas built by the Marinids.
– Fez reached its architectural peak during the Marinid era, showcasing Moorish and Moroccan architectural styles.
– Monuments and structures in Fez were restored and rebuilt over the centuries, with the Zawiya of Moulay Idris II being a significant example.

**Political and Social Influence**:
– Fez faced conflicts with tribes like the Udayas but regained stability under certain rulers.
– The elites of Fez had close associations with ruling sultans, influencing the city’s political dynamics.
– Sufi orders like the Tijani order were established in Fez, contributing to its spiritual and intellectual scene.
– Fez played a central role in political events like the Hafidhiya civil war.
– French colonial rule impacted Fez, leading to the preservation of historic monuments and the creation of urban divides.

**Geography and Demographics**:
– Fez is divided between Fes el-Bali and Fes Jdid, with the Ville Nouvelle as the modern area.
– The city is located in a valley along the Oued Fes, with the Saïs plain to the west and south.
– Fez’s population was around 1.1 million in 2014, with Islam as the predominant religion.
– The city had a significant Jewish population in the past, but emigration led to a decline, with less than 200 Jewish residents in 2001.
– Fez experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, with winter temperatures around 15°C and summer highs reaching 34.5°C.

**Post-Independence and French Colonial Impact**:
– Fez saw demographic shifts post-independence, with bourgeois classes moving to cities like Casablanca and Rabat.
– The influence of French colonial policies continued after independence, impacting urban development and preservation efforts.
– Fez’s historic walled cities were preserved as medinas, with the French shifting the administrative capital to Rabat.
– Moroccan nationalists protested against the colonial regime, highlighting tensions between old and new city structures.
– Fez experienced slow population growth until the late 1960s, reflecting changing demographic trends post-colonial rule.

Fez, Morocco (Wikipedia)

Fez or Fes (/fɛz/; Arabic: فاس, romanizedfās) is a city in northern inland Morocco and the capital of the Fès-Meknès administrative region. It is the second largest city in Morocco, with a population of 1.11 million, according to the 2014 census. Located to the northwest of the Atlas Mountains, it is surrounded by hills and the old city is centered around the Fez River (Oued Fes) flowing from west to east. Fez has been called the "Mecca of the West" and the "Athens of Africa". It is also considered the spiritual and cultural capital of Morocco.

The facade of the University of al-Qarawiyyin
The gates of the Royal Palace
Looking out across the Medina of Fez
From the top down:
Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque/University, gates of the Royal Palace, and Fes el Bali a.k.a. the Medina of Fez.
Fez is located in Morocco
Location of Fez within Morocco
Fez is located in Africa
Fez (Africa)
Coordinates: (1,100,000) 34°02′36″N 05°00′12″W / 34.04333°N 5.00333°W / 34.04333; -5.00333
Country Morocco
Founded byIdrisid dynasty
 • MayorAbdeslam Bekkali
 • GovernorSaid Zniber
 • Urban
320 km2 (120 sq mi)
414 m (1,358 ft)
 • City1,112,072
 • Rank2nd in Morocco
 • Demonym
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
Area code+212 (53)
Official nameMedina of Fez
Criteriaiii, iv
Reference no.
RegionArab States

Founded under Idrisid rule during the 8th–9th centuries CE, Fez initially consisted of two autonomous and competing settlements. Successive waves of mainly Arab immigrants from Ifriqiya (Tunisia) and al-Andalus (Spain/Portugal) in the early 9th century gave the nascent city its Arab character. After the downfall of the Idrisid dynasty, other empires came and went until the 11th century when the Almoravid Sultan Yusuf ibn Tashfin united the two settlements into what is today's Fes el-Bali (lit.'Old Fes') quarter, a.k.a. Medina of Fez. Under Almoravid rule, the city gained a reputation for religious scholarship and mercantile activity.

Fez reached its zenith in the Marinid era (13th–15th centuries), regaining its status as political capital. Numerous new madrasas and mosques were constructed, many of which survive today, while other structures were restored. These buildings are counted among the hallmarks of Moorish and Moroccan architectural styles. In 1276 the Marinid sultan Abu Yusuf Yaqub also founded the royal administrative district of Fes Jdid (lit.'New Fez'), where the Royal Palace (Dar al-Makhzen) is still located today, to which extensive gardens were later added. During this period the Jewish population of the city grew and the Mellah (Jewish quarter) was formed on the south side of this new district. After the overthrow of the Marinid dynasty, the growth of Fez stalled and the city subsequently competed with Marrakesh for political and cultural influence. It became the capital again under the 'Alawi dynasty up until 1912.

The city consists of two old medina quarters, Fes el-Bali and Fes Jdid, and the much larger modern urban Ville Nouvelle area founded during the French colonial era. The Medina of Fez is listed as a World Heritage Site and is one of the world's largest and oldest urban pedestrian zones (car-free areas). It contains the University of al-Qarawiyyin which was founded in 857 and is the oldest continuously functioning institute of higher education in the world. It also contains the Chouara Tannery from the 11th century, one of the oldest tanneries in the world.

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