Fez is a city-museum essential. Grilling and colorful, it offers amazing decorations, such as the medina of Fez el-Bali, one of the largest cities of medieval type in the world.
The city of Fez is divided into three parts: Fez el-Jedid (half-old) and Fez el-Bali (old) which form the medina, and Fez the young (new city) built by the French at the time of the protectorate and where is the administrative district.
The medina is a dynamic space. It is not only a historic center reserved for bazaars and tourists, it is also an important economic center. Fez is one of the most important economic cities of the Kingdom, especially the second industrial city and yet, a large part of its economic activities are concentrated in the medina. These are essentially artistic industries. The main branch of this craft is carpentry with carving and painting on wood, wrought iron, chiselled copper, goldsmith’s work, ceramics, silk weaving and embroidery. All these trades are carried out in tiny workshops or stalls where the craftsmen use, for the most part, an obsolete material. With regard to the ceramists’ corporation, it is noted that many workshops are no longer making efforts to manufacture their enamels and the care to be taken during cooking. On the one hand, the pilot workshop formula, adopted at one time by the administration, allowed craftsmen to retain their know-how and improve their production; on the other hand, the magnitude of royal commissions in recent decades has led to the prosperity of certain sectors, particularly the craftsmanship of the architectural decor. There is currently a monopoly of markets and distribution channels between a minority; Many artisans are finding it increasingly difficult to access the market and to have the opportunities (material and financing) to produce better.
The question is how to save this cultural heritage with this socio-economic dynamism? Fez should not be a kind of ecomuseum out of time and out of context. In any case, it does not have this vocation, which also complicates the realization of its safeguard.
The Medina of Fez was built on land where the waters of several springs and branches of a regular river (Wadi Fez) abound, in a situation of crossroads between different destinations north-south and east-west. This strategic position allows the site to control the outlet of the Taza corridor, a must between the Atlantic plains to the west and the rest of the Maghreb, or even the East to the east.
The first nucleus of the city known as Fes al Bali, was founded by Idris I, in 172H / 789 BC on the right bank of Oued Fez on the site of the neighborhood called Andalusian. This name comes from the first settlement of the city which, in addition to the natives, receives families of Andalusian refugees after the famous riot of the suburb of Córdoba occurred in 8 1 7-1 8.
In 908-9, the son of Idris I founded a new city on the left bank of Wadi Fez, exactly in front of the Andalusian district, on the site of the district of Kairouan. This name comes, for its part, from the arrival of families from this city located in lfriqya (present-day Tunisia). The city was surrounded by a six-door pier with a mosque. In the city opposite, Idriss He also built an enclosure, a mosque, a palace and a market.
In 857, a woman named Fatima al Fihriya built the Karaouyine Mosque in the left bank district, which became the largest shrine in the city. It will be enlarged by the Almoravid Youssef Ben Tachefin (1060-1106) who takes the city in 1069, as it unifies the city originally divided into two districts, destroyed the walls that separated it in two and causes a revival of economic life by building foundouqs (inns), baths and mills. In 1143, after a siege of nine months, Fes is occupied by the Almohads (1130-1269). Behind its walls, the city is organized: like Marrakech, it has its places of worship, commerce, its water supply system, its corporations, its aristocracy, etc.
With the Mérinides who conquered it in the middle of the Xlllth century, Fez becomes capital of Morocco and knows its golden age. Their first great ruler, Abu Youssef Yacoub (1258-1286) founded Fes Jdid (Newfoundland) in 1276, immediately west of the city, fortifies with a powerful enclosure, the endowed with a large mosque, neighborhoods residential, palace (missing), gardens. In the 14th century, a Jewish quarter, the first Mellah of Morocco, came to join the new foundation. But Mérinides announce themselves especially like builders of madrassas, these colleges characteristic different size and decoration, rivaling of beauty and symmetry, organized around a more or less vast porch patio whose center is occupied by a basin or a basin.