Cities with ancient art traditions
It often seems that time stands still in the medinas of Fez and Meknes. Yet behind their high walls, a host of artisans busy themselves crafting and reviving traditions to produce works that are both authentic and modern.
Wander into the Fez medina and explore its alleys, where you will madrassas, riads and caravanserai that have been converted to museums and mosques. Tour El Henna market, a showcase for natural cosmetics where bars of black soap are stacked alongside kohl kits and bottles of rose water. Seek out the cabinet makers clustered in the Nejarrine district, who work wood, which they cut and carve with great finesse. But in the Imperial City, the most representative art is pottery. This is where you will find the famous cobalt blue pottery of Fez, glazed ceramic made by deft potters. Their agile hands produce great trinkets that double as souvenirs and practical serving pieces.
Meknes has a reputation of its own. Its medina and El Hedime square are homes to all kinds of stands. Artful damascening can be found on vases, plates, bracelets and other finely decorated objects. Embroidery and tanning are also specialties among these craftsmen who hand down their skills from father to son.
Meknes is nestled within an exceptional, fertile hinterland scattered with vineyards, orchards and olive groves.
In these two imperial cities and their surrounding areas, there are countless opportunities to find souvenirs from the people and from the land.