By Jearld Moldenhauer
Fez – It is a geological fact that the ancient habitat was founded on the hill sides of a rather small river, which over the millennia has eroded the land, creating the two opposing hillsides through which it still flows.
Because there are no tall modern buildings to give it even the slightest skyline, the only way to view Fez is from above.
These photos were taken from the surrounding countryside in all directions: from Mt. Zalagh to the Northeast, from the high hills directly to the East, from the first slopes of the Middle Atlas to the South, from Mt. Zerhoun to the West near Meknes, and from an airplane directly above.
The Medina retains a special and unique beauty with most of its old walls still standing, nestled as it is among the rolling hills of the Saiss Plain with the steep slopes and rocky crown of Mount Zalagh almost flush with the Medina’s northern border.
The American writer Paul Bowles (1910-1999) lived in Morocco for 52 years. In a private letter to the Australian composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks written in December of 1947, Bowles writes: “Fez is still the most beautiful city of all. I always feel at home.
He continues: “Everything looks like my apartment: – the mountains, the walls of the city, the streets, and the houses themselves.”
What he seems to be saying is how easy and comfortable it is to relate to because everything is on a human scale.
Earlier in the same letter, writing from the Palais Jamai above the Medina he comments: “The City of Fez lies below, very slowly disengaging itself from the morning mist and smoke, while a million cocks crow at once, constantly. I’m a great lover of natural sounds, and they have been present to fill the spaces which otherwise would have been only silence. Wind, water, birds and animals, and human voices, make a fine auditory backdrop.”