The Medina of Fez is located in north-central Morocco, about 60 km east of Meknes. It is the most ancient of the Moroccan imperial capitals and a complete medieval city in the Arab world. The Fez Medina was discovered in the 9th century. It was previously named as Fes el Bali. UNESCO listed Fes el Bali as a world heritage site in 1981 under the name Medina of Fez.
The world heritage site includes Fes el Bali’s urban fabric and walls as well as a buffer zone outside of the walls that are intended to preserve the visual integrity of the location.
Fes el Bali was founded as the capital of the Idrisid dynasty between 789 and 808 AD. Besides being famous for having the oldest university in the world, it is also believed to be the biggest car-free urban area in the world.
The Fez Medina is an incredible place made up of beautiful historical buildings that date back to medieval times. These well-preserved buildings include mosques, palaces, fountains and residential homes. Today the Medina of Fez provides a fascinating window on a medieval world grasping at modernity. The tight-knit buildings of the Medina conceal an intricate web of alleys, passages and tiny squares where people bake bread, dye leather, weave cloth and hammer metals as they have done for centuries.
Fes el Bali was founded as the capital of the Idrisid dynasty between 789 and 808 AD. It is home to the oldest university in the world, Fez reached its height in the 13th–14th centuries under the Marinids, when it replaced Marrakesh as the capital of the kingdom. The majority of the Fes el Bali’s population was made up of refugees from surrounding Moorish dynasties, namely from Andalusia, Kairouan, and Tunisia.
The urban fabric and the principal monuments in the medina – madrasas, fonduks, palaces, residences, mosques and fountains – date from this period. Although the political capital of Morocco was transferred to Rabat in 1912, Fez has retained its status as the country’s cultural and spiritual center. The Medina of Fez has been named to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.