In the late seventh century, fleeing the hegemony of the Abbasids in Baghdad, Idriss I, descendant of the prophet, took refuge among the Berbers of central Morocco. Supported by many Amazigh tribes who proclaim King of Morocco, he founded in 789 AD his capital on the right bank of the Oued Fez. At his death, his son, Idriss II, completed work on the left bank of the Oued 809 and decides to establish the seat of the dynasty.
The first legend says that the name of Fez which means pickaxe would have been given by the Sultan Moulay Driss following a pickaxe blow in the depths of the earth, and has brought forth, from the bowels of the city, pure, clear water. This water still snaking alleys, through the alleys of houses, riads and palaces and supplies most of the city fountains. A second version, reports that digging the foundations of the city, they found a large “Fez”, weighing sixty pounds, and that’s where it came not from Fez. Anyway this city became the first Islamic city in the country as its founder wanted. A few years later, the city welcomes hundreds of political refugees from Andalusia, Cordoba precisely according to historians. They founded the Andalusian district in 818. This population has been reinforced by the arrival of Jews. Seven years later, 300 families of artisans and traders evicted from Kairouan (modern Tunisia) settled west of the city, in the neighborhood of kairaouanais said.
Fes El Bali is complete and is based on the famous mosque of Quaraouiyine and multiple religious heritages, cultural and architectural. The dynasties succeeded one another in leaving behind sumptuous palaces, mosques, madrasahs and gardens. Thus Fez is quickly becoming the religious and cultural center of Morocco. Under the reign of the Almoravids, including that of Youssef Ben Tachfine, Fez is experiencing a boom artistic and intellectual marked by the construction in 1096 of the College of patients Almoravids, the madrasah equipped with a library, and the reopening of the road the Saharan gold. In the middle of the twelfth century, the Almohad Sultan Abd el-Moumem seizes the city, “frequented by travelers from all country.” Its inhabitants trade with Spain, the central Maghreb, Sahara, East and even some Christian countries. The prosperous city. In 1250, Fez becomes the capital of the empire Merinid for two centuries. The radiation of Fez reached its peak with Marinids. Sovereign mérinides make it a prestigious city. They realized that a new city was the seat of power and named Al-Medina Al-Bayda (the white city) as opposed to the city of Moulay Idriss, whose walls were already weathered the test of time. Another name “Fez Jdid Al” was given to him as opposed to “Fez Al-Bali “. They introduced the new official institution that was to spread the madrasah Maliki doctrine and form an official body for justice, administration and the state. Finally, they enriched the city with new equipment: fondouks, fountains, baths, ovens, mills, bridges, etc. Fez know its heyday in the early fourteenth century. Mérinides oscillate between two policies: the expansion of their power in North Africa and the resumption of traditional south-north axis oriented Spain.
In the second half of the fifteenth century, Fez is affected by the prevailing unrest in the kingdom at the end of the Marinid dynasty. It is marked by the appearance of the new dynasty Beni Wattas in 1471, with the arrival of Muslims and Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 and, indirectly, by the arrival of the Portuguese in the Atlantic ports. In 1666, Moulay Rachid restores order, raise trade and chooses Fez again as the capital of the kingdom. After a long period of agitation in the first half of the eighteenth century, the city regained its calm and its prestige in the eighteenth century, thanks to the alliance of the military and leaders of the old University of Quaraouiyine, seat of a real political force. The new city meanwhile, emerged during the introduction of French protectorate in 1912. “Colonial City” mostly art deco style, it was created west of Fez Jdid and the Medina. Competition from the emerging economic activity Casablanca, Fez maintains its influence religious, intellectual and commercial. Today, the new city coexists with the old. Fez preserves his inner self and his wealth authenticity while opening modernism. It thus remains the spiritual capital of Morocco it deep in history and the oldest of the imperial cities of Cherifian kingdom.