Vagobond Travel Museum – Fez World Sacred Music Festival

Today is the first day of the Fez Festival of Sacred Music and as such, this edition of the Vagobond Travel Museum is dedicated to the festival, the city of Fez, and the sacred (but sometimes not) music of the participants.

The City of Fez

Fes Festival of World Sacred MusicFez is an amazing place to visit. As I’ve detailed previously, the architecture of the houses in Fez is something to be in awe of. It’s worth a moment to find out more about. While there are a lot of wonderful places to stay, my personal recommendations are Dar El Menia, Dar Iman, Dar Finn, and Riad 9.  My recommendations are as much a matter of knowing the people who run them as of knowing that the houses are beautiful and well maintained.

The Fez Medina is a world heritage site filled with monuments, architecture and more. The  walled city still teems with madrasas, fondouks, mosques and palaces dating from Marinid rule in the 13th–14th centuries. At that period, Fez replaced Marrakesh as the capital of the kingdom.  Some of the more famous sites are the  Bou Inania Madrasa (1351-1356),  Al-Attarine Madrasa (1323-1325),  University of Al-Karaouine (859),   Zaouia Moulay Idriss II (shrine), and the  Dar al-Magana, a clockhouse which holds a weight powered water clock (1357).

Fez Festival of Sacred MusicThe History of Fez is a long and interesting read. Here is a very concise and colorful  Description and History of Fez.  In addition, there are a number of very good Historical essays by numerous authors which cover the long and sometimes very interesting history of Morocco as well. 

Morocco, so tolerant and “unextreme” in many respects, still operates a policy of non-entry to its mosques by non-muslims.  There are, however, some madrasas which can be visited. Fez is a “monumental city” whose atmosphere is generated by countless examples of  architecture and and a multitude of human activities. It size really is amazing – this is no preserved corner of a modern city. Fez does have a modern quarter but the old Medina is of “full size” in its own right. A particular joy are the specialised areas for  Dyeing , Pottery, Tanning, Metalwork, Carpet, weaving, woodwork, and Tile making – not to mention the food!

Fez Festival of Sacred MusicThe Jewish Community in Fez is very interesting in itself and sometimes when you look at Fez today, it’s hard to remember that there is a long tradition of Jewish Life here. 

The novelist  Paul Bowles wrote about Fez in his novels and essays and of course one must explore the Taste of  Moroccan food while here as well. It is as exotic and flavorful as the people who live here.  Fez is said to be the largest car free city in the world.

Morocco’s Remarkable Riads deserve a tour all their own. Still, it is just one reason to come to Fez during the World Festival of Sacred Music.  The city has been covered by Lonely Planet and National Geographic many times in the past.

Another thing to enjoy when you aren’t enjoying the music is a Hammam trip in Fes.  The Museums in Fes can fill your days between concerts and these days there are plenty of sites and articles about the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music.

Fez Festival of Sacred MusicThere is plenty of information for the independent traveler to Morocco on the web.  Visitors will also want to visit the forums on Trip Advisor.  Fez is a magical place, there is no doubt about it. From the Glaoui Palace to taking tours through the workshops of traditional artisans there is absoulutely no shortage of things to do in Fez.  

It should be noted that in Morocco, it is the French spelling that is primarily used. Fes. Fez is the anglicized spelling.

The Fez World Sacred Music Festival

The Fez Festival of World Sacred Music is one of the principal events of the Spirit of Fes Foundation. The aim is to harness the arts and spirituality to promote human and social development and to foster harmony between people and cultures.

Exploring the Fez medinaThe  theme of the 18th Festival , from 8-16 June 2012 is  Re-enchanting the World  and is a tribute to the great Persian poet  Omar al Khayyam.  The Fes Festival explores the vast repertoire of the songs and rhythms of the cultures of the world.

The headliner this year is Bjork but also of note are Joan Baez, Anuj Mishra, Sonam Marvi, Wadi el Safi and an incredible program of music, discussion, dance and poetry.

Here are some videos of a few of the highlights I’m looking forward to seeing.



Also coming is the Romanian Ensemble Sentimento Gipsy Paganin

Here are some of the other artists who will be at this years Festival:

sheikh Yassin Al Tuhami of Egypt

Cantica Symphonia of Italy

And many more. In addition there will be forums held in English, French, Spanish, Arabic as well as poetry by Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat and others.

Another event I’m personally looking forward to is seeing Cherifa, the Middle Atlas Poet – which may or may not be translated.

For a full list of the music and events, you can visit the site of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music.

News Reporter

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook