20 3 / 2013

So continuing my trip to Fes we visited some beautiful madrasas. That just means school in Arabic but has a very specific connotation. It originated with the Seljuq Turks in the 11th century as a change from traditional education which just was an informal system where students were taught at home or at the mosque. The madrasa became a more formal school where students lived and were educated. There was a central courtyard with tiny rooms for the boys. Typically boys would already have memorized the Qur’an already before they went. The buildings themselves could be simple or ornate but the ones in Fes were spectacular. They were the first madrasas west of Cairo, brought in I think by the Merinids.

We also saw the Fes water clock. There isn’t a concencus about how it worked and they have so far been unable to restore it. We also saw the water cistern that distributed running water to the rest of the city.

In every district in the city there was a fountain (for people and the animals they use to carry everything), a hammam (which i still haven’t been too), a mosque, a school, and a communal oven to cook everyone’s bread.

We also passed the Qarawiyyin (note there are multiple spellings) mosque and the Qarawiyyin university which is the oldest university in the world.