Fés the spiritual

On the surface, Fes seems to embody Morocco's past, with its ninth-century mosques and car-free streets. But behind the shutters, exciting changes are taking place

For more than a decade, Marrakesh has been the Moroccan destination on everyone’s list, with its ever-more-luxurious hotels and attainable whiff of the exotic. Fes, about 240 miles northeast of Marrakesh, was often an afterthought. Those who went there raved about the UNESCO World Heritage medieval medina—still totally inaccessible to cars, still genuinely Moroccan. But with few upscale places to stay, conservative Fez was never more than a quick stopover.

It is an ancient and noble city, established in a.d. 789 by Idriss I,... Show more


One of the oldest and most important synagogues in North Africa. Originally built and owned by a prominent Moroccan Jewish family in the mid-seventeenth century and renovated in its present form at the end of the nineteenth century. The structure, located in the hearth of the mellah (Jewish quarter) is a rare survivor of a pivotal time in Moroccan Jewish history.


The cemetery is covered with white arched tombstones. Some have engraved inscriptions, the more recent in French and older ones in Hebrew. There are small chambers for burning candles in some of these tombs, some important and righteous people are buried there, for example Yehuda ben Atar, Sol the Just, Rabbi Avner Hatsarfati, Rabbi Haim Cohen, Rabbi Yaakov Even Tsur as well as Sulika, a beautiful young woman who refused to convert and marry the Sultan and was killed as a result.

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