Getting Oriented

Situated between the mountainous Middle Atlas and valleys of the Rif, Fez and Meknès are rewarding visits with historic monuments, sumptuous palaces, imposing ramparts, and vibrant markets. Fez is by far the more significant destination. Meknès is a calmer city to experience authentic local life, with fewer tourists and hustlers. Side trips to the Roman ruins in Volubilis and sacred village of Moulay Idriss are highly recommended if time permits. The Middle Atlas, the northernmost part of the three Atlas Mountain chains, is a brief surprise on the way to or from the Sahara. Explore provinces like Ifrane, considered "Morocco’s Switzerland," Berber cities of Azrou and Sefrou, beautiful forests, picturesque mountain ranges, and the canyons of the Cirque du Djebel Tazzeka near Taza.

  • Fez. Founded in the 8th century on the banks of the Fez River by Moulay Idriss, Fez remains Morocco's grandest and oldest imperial city. Within the medieval stone walls of the medina there are two distinct historic areas: Fez el-Bali (Old Fez) and Fez el-Djedid (New Fez). Farther south, the Ville Nouvelle (New Town) is a modern district built in 1912, attracting wealthier residents and strong commercial activity. The city’s labyrinthine heart is the medina, enclosing historic minarets, souks, mosques, museums, fountains, and squares that get the well-deserved attention of most visitors throughout the year.
  • Meknès. Founded in the 11th century by the Almoravids, Meknès became an imperial city under the rule of Sultan Moulay Ismail. The city has three distinct areas—the ancient medina with its central Place el-Hedime; the Imperial City, which contains the most impressive monuments; and the Ville Nouvelle (New Town).
  • The Mediterranean Middle Atlas. The northern Middle Atlas begins south and east of Fez and stretches southwest. The Azrou Cedar Forest and the Djebel Tazzeka Massif above Taza are the main attractions in this heavily forested northern zone, along with the ski region near Ifrane.

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