This series of blog posts is based on the book 100 Wonders of the World by Michael Hoffman and Alexander Krings.
Fes, the city
Fes or Fez is the fourth largest city in Morocco —after Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakech— with a population of one million (2004 census).
Fes, a former capital, is one of the country's 4 "imperial cities," the others being Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat. It comprises three distinct parts, Fes el Bali (the old, walled city), Fes-Jdid (new Fes, home of the Mellah) and the Ville Nouvelle (the French-created, newest section of Fes).
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Fes el Bali is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its medina, the larger of the two medinas of Fes, is believed to be the world's largest contiguous car-free urban area. The University of Al-Karaouine, founded in 859 C.E., is the oldest continuously functioning university in the world.
Leather tanning in Fes. Image source: Wikipedia, Bernard Gagnon, GNU Free Documentation License.
History of the city
The city was founded on a bank of the Fez River by Idris I in 789, founder of the Idrisid dynasty, the works being continued on the opposite bank by his son Idris II (808).
Idris I was the first ruler and founder of the Idrisid Dynasty, ruling from 788 to 791 AD. He is credited with founding the dynasty that was instrumental in the early Islamization of Morocco and Spain. Idriss I was the great grandchild of Hassan, son of Ali the cousin of prophet Muhammad.
He conquered large parts of northern Morocco, and founded the city of Fes, which his son Idriss II would make capital city of the Idrissid dynasty. At the age of four little Idris II apparently could read, and at five write, prodigious achievements at the time.
Twenty years after his father had done so, Idris II refounded the city Fez on the left bank of the River Fez, opposite to where his father had founded it on the right bank.
Idris II died at 35 in 828. Curiously, for 1,200 years afterwards, the tradition of monarchy, established by Idris I and II, were continued. Idriss II was the father of 12 sons.
Fes, the hat
The fez (Greek: fesi, Turkish: fes, plural fezzes or fezes) is a red felt hat in the shape of a truncated cone. The fez originated in Ancient or Byzantine Greece, later finding popularity in the Ottoman Empire.
Fes, the hat. Image source: Wikipedia, GNU Free Documentation License.
The origin of the name is controversial. The Turkish word "fes" may refer to the city of Fez in Morocco, or to the name of the crimson berry, which was imported from that country and was used to dye the felt.
In addition to Meknes, Fés and Marrakesh, Morocco's capital city of Rabat is one of the country's historic four royal cities. TravelVideoStore.
Fez (hat). Wikipedia.
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100 Wonders of the World