The next morning following breakfast, you will have the day to explore Fes, Morocco’s spiritual heart. Founded in A.D. 789, the ancient walled city is home to Al-Qarawiyyin, the oldest existing and continuously operating educational institution in the world, according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records. The institution was founded by Fatima al-Fihri, a woman, in 859 A.D. and thereafter became one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the historic Muslim world.
Within the majestic walls of Fes, more than 9,500 narrow streets and dim alleyways wind endlessly up and down, around and around, amid thousands of stalls touting displays of centuries-old artisanship. It is impossible to prepare yourself for the incredible assault on the senses. Few non-Fesian born individuals, can claim to know the secrets found within the mysterious labyrinth teeming with people, animals, activity, noise, color, music, and scents. The majority of first timers describe the experience as synonymous to being whisked away and magically transported back to an ancient era, infinitely unlike anywhere in the modern world. At first, you may harbor the secret belief that the chaos around you is simply an interactive performance elaborately pieced together for the purpose of enlightening foreigners on aspects of medieval life. You’ll believe this until you recognize the fact that the Moroccan population is going about the day in the same way people have gone about daily, century after century, within the noble walls of this amazingly preserved imperial city.