Hi! This post is a continuation of my last post on our week-long YES Abroad and NSLI-Y group trip during our school’s fall break.
After staying in Fez for three nights, we headed west to Agourai (a small town that I’ll write about later), and then to Meknes. I always find that it’s a lot easier to visualize places with maps:
Here are a few more pictures!
Jewish quarter in Fez
A Jewish quarter of a Moroccan city is called a mellah (the word “mellah” means “salt marsh” in Arabic). The first mellah in Morocco, established in the 15th century, was in Fez. It was built on former salt marshes.
Now, the Jewish quarter in Fez is inhabited by Muslims. Most Moroccan Jews have moved out of Fez and into other cities in Morocco.
Moulay Yacoub and the hammam
One of my favorite parts of Morocco is the hammam, or the public bath. It’s a great way to get really clean in lots of hot steam—and also a good way to socialize. In fact, I’m planning to go to the hammam this weekend, so I think I’ll stop by the medina tomorrow and get some soap and henna 🙂
The baths in Moulay Yacoub, though, are different. First, you descend stairs for what seems like forever. On either side of you are shops that sell hammam supplies: savon bildi (brown soap), henna, and so on. I rented a bucket and a ladle, and I brought my own kees (mitten for removing dead skin).
Normal hammams usually have three rooms of varying temperatures as well as faucets of hot and cold water that you mix in buckets before pouring on your skin. But the hammam in Moulay Yacoub is one large room with maybe 50 people (the rooms are gender separated) and a hot, hot pool in the middle from which you scoop water with a bucket. Then you ladle it onto your skin. According to Wikipedia, the water’s “pumped from some 1500m below ground and reach temperatures of around 54˚C.” Lots of minerals are in the water, too—especially sulfur, which is supposed to be good for your health, and makes your skin feel sticky after you leave.
The whole area smells like Yellowstone because of all the sulfur. It’s a smell to get used to, but now I miss it. I love hammams so much!! Also, fun fact: I had a pretty bad headache and felt like I was coming down with a cold before I went to the hammam that day, but afterwards, I felt completely fine and like I was walking on clouds. Don’t know if those two things have any correlation whatsoever, but that’s a contributing factor to my really liking hammams.
Volubilis is a partially-excavated Roman/Amazigh city founded around the 3rd century BC, and abandoned during the 11th century.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Here’s the Wikipedia page on Volubilis, though! It’s super interesting. Check it out 🙂
Meknes, like Fes and Marrakech, was once an imperial capital of Morocco. Moulay Ismail made Meknes a capital and founded and ruled the Alaouite Dynasty.
Some places that we visited:
- The entrance to a 17th century underground prison that held mostly captured Christians and slaves:
- Former horse stables that belonged to Moulay Ismail
- Pretty sure this place was for grain storage
- Artificial lake built by Moulay Ismail for water supply to the city
- a statue of a water carrier (one of the few statues here in Morocco). Most Islamic art is geometric pattern based; statues are rare.
- Uploading pictures to WordPress is time consuming and the pictures, when they display on the blog, end up extra blurry. I’m sorry for that 😦 Stay tuned for a link to maybe a Flickr album or Google Photos where I’ll post better versions of these pictures!
- Thank you for reading!!
- yeeees there is snow on my blog. Discovered that cool function on WordPress. It’ll stay for the foreseeable future.