Fes Architecture

Fes Architecture

Fes Architecture. Fes, also spelled Fez, is one of the most culturally and historically significant cities in Morocco, renowned for its distinctive architecture. The architecture of Fes reflects a rich tapestry of influences from various periods of Moroccan history, including Arab, Berber, Andalusian, and French colonial styles. Here are some key features and elements of Fes architecture:



The Medina of Fez, known as Fes el-Bali, is a maze of narrow streets lined with traditional Moroccan houses called riads. These houses feature intricately decorated courtyards with mosaic tiles and carved woodwork. Historic mosques like the University of Al Quaraouiyine Mosque and ornate gates such as Bab Bou Jeloud are scattered throughout the Medina. The bustling souks, including the famous Chouara Tannery, showcase traditional architecture and craftsmanship. Conservation efforts aim to preserve this architectural treasure, reflecting Fez’s rich cultural heritage.

Riad Houses:

Riad houses

Riad houses in Fez feature a central courtyard or garden surrounded by rooms. They showcase intricate architectural details like colorful mosaic tilework, carved plaster, and wooden lattice screens. These traditional Moroccan homes provide a cool and serene retreat within the bustling Medina.

Mosques and Minarets:

Mosques and minarets

In Fez, mosques and minarets are prominent architectural features. Mosques like the University of Al Quaraouiyine Mosque are historic landmarks with intricate designs. Minarets, attached to mosques, are known for their elegant shapes and decorative details, often featuring ornate tilework and Arabic calligraphy. Together, they represent Fez’s rich Islamic heritage and serve as important cultural landmarks. Fes Architecture.



Fes boasts several historic madrasas, such as the Bou Inania Madrasa and the Attarine Madrasa, which showcase exquisite Islamic architecture and craftsmanship. These educational institutions often feature ornate courtyards, intricate tilework, and elaborate stucco decorations.

Palaces and Gardens:

Palaces and gardens

Fes has been home to Moroccan royalty for centuries, and as such, it contains several opulent palaces and gardens. These include the Royal Palace (Dar al-Makhzen) with its impressive gates and expansive grounds, as well as the Jnan Sbil Gardens, a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. Fes Architecture.

Andalusian Influence:

Andalusian influence

Fes was heavily influenced by Andalusian architecture during the period when Muslims fled Spain during the Reconquista. This influence is evident in the use of decorative tilework, intricate plaster carvings, and courtyard design found throughout the city. Fes Architecture.

Zellige Tilework:

Zellige tilework

Zellige is a distinctive form of mosaic tilework found extensively throughout Fes. It involves intricate geometric patterns created by assembling small, colored ceramic tiles. Zellige is used to adorn walls, floors, ceilings, and fountains, adding a vibrant and decorative element to buildings.



Fes is famous for its traditional leather tanneries, where hides are processed using age-old techniques. The tanneries, located in the Medina, provide a glimpse into an ancient craft and feature unique architecture, including large vats filled with colorful dyes and rooftop terraces offering panoramic views of the tannery district.

Defensive Architecture:

Defensive architecture

Fes has a long history of fortifications and defensive architecture, dating back to its founding in the 9th century. The city is surrounded by high walls and fortified gates, such as Bab Bou Jeloud and Bab Rcif, which served to protect the Medina from invasions and attacks.

Traditional Crafts:

Traditional crafts

Fes is renowned for its skilled artisans who practice traditional crafts such as woodworking, metalworking, pottery, and textile weaving. The architecture of Fes often incorporates elements crafted by these artisans, including intricately carved wooden doors, wrought iron grilles, and handwoven carpets.

Modern Developments:

Modern developments

While Fes is steeped in history, the city is also evolving with modern architectural developments. In addition to traditional riads and medina dwellings, Fes now features contemporary buildings, hotels, and infrastructure to accommodate tourism and urban growth.

Cultural Significance:

Cultural significance

The architecture of Fes not only serves as a physical representation of the city’s past but also plays a vital role in shaping its cultural identity and sense of community. Traditional architectural forms and techniques are passed down through generations, contributing to Fes’s enduring legacy as a center of Moroccan art and culture.

Overall, the architecture of Fes is a fascinating blend of ancient traditions, diverse influences, and ongoing innovation, making it a captivating destination for historians, architects, and travelers alike. What to visit in Fes?

Follow us on Instagram