The Ruined Garden, tucked deep in Morocco’s largest medina in the city of Fez, was recently named one of the World’s Best Restaurants by Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine. Here’s what to see and do while you’re in the area.
BY: LILA BATTIS
With its labyrinthine passageways crowded with pedestrians and the occasional donkey, the Fez medina, known as Fes-el-Bali, feels like a relic from another time.
The UNESCO World Heritage site is famously difficult to navigate on your own, so it’s worth hiring a guide to lead the way, at least while you’re getting your bearings on the first day or two. (Michael Diamond is T+L’s A-List Morocco specialist.)
Don’t miss a visit to Fondouk el-Nejjarine, a three-story caravansary (or trader’s inn) turned woodworking museum — the architecture alone would be enough to warrant a visit, with a central courtyard where caravans once stopped to rest. Exhibitions featuring elaborately carved dowry chests, doors, and furniture offer a glimpse at the intricacy of Moroccan carpentry over thousands of years. Climb one last set of stairs to the rooftop, where you can relax with a cup of tea and gaze down upon the old city.
Near Fez’s famous blue gate, the Bab Bou Jeloud, the 14th-century Madrasa Bou Inania offers another glimpse at Moroccan handicrafts. After a recent restoration, the school’s zellij tilework, carved stucco, and cedar woodwork appear much as they would have 600 years ago. Across the street, crane your neck a bit and you’ll spot Dar al-Magana, the 14th-century clock house, where water clock once kept time using a series of windows, weights, and bowls
Visit Médin Art for bold prints and modern spins on crafts like babouches and woven goods, then duck through an unassuming entrance to Le Jardin des Biehn. The hushed courtyard, filled with trees and fountains, is an inviting spot for a drink — or just a brief respite from the medina crowds. If you’ve had enough of haggling in the souks, head to the on-site shop, which stocks top-quality vintage carpets, caftans, and jewelry. Stay at Riad Fes, and be sure to make it back in time to catch the sunset from the rooftop bar, glass of Moroccan vin gris in hand.