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Spring Break (3): Fes, Morocco


In the morning, our local tour guide brought us to The Royal Palace, home of Mohammed VI. Inside, there are beautiful gardens, intricate mosaics, and even a Madrasa, but unfortunately the palace is closed to the public. Despite this, we admired the door of the entrance and learned more about it's designs and what they signify.

The door is made with cedar wood covered with bronze that can last for more than 10 centuries. The designs are based on flowers, with the star always in the center representing the light of religion, and the middle shows representations of the cedar trees.

After marriage, the bride and groom, as well as their friends and family, hold the door with two fingers and make a wish. Traditionally, those who aren't married yet make the wish to get married. Green is used as it is the color of Islam, and blue represents purity. The left photo below shows the French 'fleur de lis' flower as a motif for dignity.

The marriage dowry usually ranges from 5-10k, and includes presents like large plates of dry dates stuffed with walnuts, jewelry, henna, etc. Below are examples of the kind of presents that the bride would receive before her wedding day.

Boxes to hold jewelry.

Dates stuffed with walnuts.


We went to the southern tower of Fes that was built with the northern tower (Borj Nord), fortresses that were erected to protect the city from foreign invaders. The tower provided a birds-eye view overlooking the city, and if looked closely, satellites can be seen on top of every building. Television is the major form of entertainment, and some households even have a T.V. for each person so there wouldn't be conflict over who gets to watch their specific program.

The noticeable difference about Fes from Marrakech is in their building color. Marrakech is full of earthy corals, whereas Fes is tan in comparison.


We were taken to a factory to learn how pottery is made, as well as shown the amount of work that goes into creating tile-work (the trade that Fes is most known for).


Spinning pottery.

A lot of designers draw on the traditional designs by memory:

Afterwards, the designs are painted, and some colors change once fired (purple turning into blue, and black turning into green).

Firing kilns:

RIght photo: dried pressed olives are used for their firing.


Shapeless tiles are skillfully chipped away to create certain geometric shapes.

Pieces that have been chipped and shaped:

After receiving all the pieces, the mosaic is assembled backwards, and can take up to 25 days depending on how large the project is.

Left: Carving the tiles. Right: Assembling the tiles to create the final pattern.

The Showroom:


Fes el Bali is the city's oldest neighborhood, and the medina gives you many opportunities to explore the local Fes atmosphere. It is a lot less touristy than the medina's of Marrakech, with a lot less people trying to aggressively sell you things. While exploring, wear comfortable shoes, and be warned that since they eat camels, their may be camel heads shown in meat shops (there will not be a photo of that in this blog post).

Doors of homes have two entrances, one smaller than the other to make you bow your head in respect for God when entering. The two knockers make different sounds, the middle knocker for family, and the top for others.

Some alleys are narrow enough to only allow one person walking through at a time.

Place to get your clothes re-dyed.