Thursday, September 27, 2012

#929 Fes, Morocco

I was first guided through the Old Medina in Fes by Hassan Radouane, the Moorish Art and Architecture professor at Al Akhawayn University. He was in the middle of several restoration projects and behind locked doors we saw amazing hotels, houses, hospitals, caravansarais, moques and bath houses in various states of re-repair. 

It was incredible to learn the history of how they created the magnificent muqarnas (plaster 3D shapes like stalactites), or how the plaster had to be wet to carve easily, the art of the jig-saw like tiles, what the various rooms and spaces were used for, and the architectural etiquette rules. Whether it was to create the home's peaceful cool oasis in the middle of the hot, dirty, desert-city streets with a fountain, or the two different door knockers for family and professional visitors (or women/men responses), the horse versus people doors, the meaning of the shapes and symbols, and the proximity of the bath house to the bakery in order to share the same fire.

The shopping was incredible -- little shops with beautiful blue and white pottery, old swords, junk shops, the ubiquitous Moroccan sahara scarves (which, when washed, turn everything the color of the dye!), and other crafts and souvenirs. The tannery in Fez is the size of several football fields, impressive with its bright colors, strong smells, ancient methods and gorgeous leather products resulting!

Oh, and the food... what I wouldn't give for some harira soup right now!

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