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To my mind there is only one way of learning to know a city, and that is by going on foot. It is a magnificent method and the only way to discover Fes El Bali or the old city of Fes. I had already been in many Souks, or Moorish markets. There is the Souk of Tangier with its feasts of color, there is the Medina of Rabat with its Hassan Tower, but the Medina of Fes is unique. For Fes is ancient and noble, a voluptuous and subtle charmer. Here there is no sense of time or space. Here magic carpets are woven, love philters are brewed. There are many voices in the Souks: the shouts of wearing-masters as they direct the people who hold their threads; the prayers raising from Mosques five times daily; the laughter of women gossiping at the tomb of Saint Moulay Idriss; the voices of the Berber tribesmen from the hills as they order their long lines of patient donkeys to the right or to the left according to the intonation of their voices. Meanwhile, the Imperial city, white and compact within its crenellated walls, rising gently on a hill fringed with olive trees and willows, and surrounded by mountains. Along the powdery roads leading into town through its vast horseshoe gateways, white-robed peasants marched majestically beside there donkeys.
The voices and smells are sometimes hard to take, but Fassi houses, derelict looking on the outside, can open up into beautiful courtyard and rooms, completely isolated from the outside smells and noises. Here the Fassi has lived in comfort for centuries, rejoicing in his privacy and in the reticulated water supply, which was one of the wonders of the middle ages and the renaissance.
Today, although Fes has yielded to Rabat as the political Capital of Morocco, it considers itself the spiritual, intellectual, and cultural Capital of the country; spiritual because of the activities of the Karaouine Mosque and the religious scholars trained at its University; intellectual because of the flourishing state of Arabic letters at modern faculties of Arts and of Islamic Law; cultural because of the continuing profound influence of its Bourgeoisie of all aspects of the Moroccan way of life.