The region of Fès-Boulemane consists of 15 urban communes and 48 rural communes. Its capital is the city of Fès, the fourth largest Moroccan city. In bygone days it was an important centre of trade and the end of a gold trading route that originated in Timbuktu. These days, it is growing into a major tourist destination, a draw thanks to its old palaces and places of worship, and colourful food and garment markets. It has three major divisions: the walled old city, Fès el-Bali, the Jewish section Fès el-Jedid, and the French-style section, Ville Nouvelle.
One of the world’s biggest and most intact medieval Arabian cities, Fès el-Bali is distinguished by beautifully preserved city walls and buildings and fabulous old architectur. It is also home to the University of Al-Karaouine, founded in 859 A.D. and said to be the oldest continuous operating university in the world. Other impressive buildings and institutions here are the important and beautiful Kairouine Mosque; the Andalus Mosque in the tranquil Andalus Quarter; Batha Museum, which houses a collection of decorative arts in a converted villa; and a museum of woodwork in an old caravansary at Place Nejjarine. Just inside the gates are its delightful food and spice markets, full of exotic sights and aromas. Nearby streets are lined with various small craftsmen’s shops.
With its many attractions, this car-free old city has grown into a popular tourist destination. It is also popular with locals and expatriates interested in buying and refurbishing old houses for second homes.
Fès el-Jedid has a more European feel, with its wide streets and squares. Its principal attractions are the Royal Palace, which is not open to the public, and the old Jewish quarter, or Mellah. Avenue Hassan II and Boulevard Mohammed V, its main thoroughfares, are lined with restaurants, sidewalk cafés, and pastry shops.
Ville Nouvelle was built according to a French plan. It provides a charming contrast to the other parts of the city.
The prefecture of Moulay Yacoub, which lies northwest of Fez, is famous for its hot mineral springs. It is home to an internationally renowned spa. Its many rural houses carved from white, red, tan, and grey stone add charm to the landscape of the region.
The prefecture of Sefrou is blessed with many wonderful natural sites, including fascinating caves and forests. It is not very strong industrially and depends mostly on nearby Fès for many products and services.
The province of Boulemane is well-known for its carpets, hanbel textile village, and paleontological site. Its terrain is diverse, with a great number of streams running through its breathtaking valleys.