THE IMPERIAL ROAD

Carnet de voyage Fès, Maroc. Jacques Bravo

The imperial road

Fez

We can only go through it by going back in time, of course, starting from the final result, Fez, Moulay Idriss, Meknes

- the imperial cities -, to go to the source of the original power, Tafilalet and Sijilmassa, as cult as Timbuktu, the mythical capital dissolved by the sands.

It all started in Morocco with the arrival of a young prince from the East, after the "dark centuries" that followed the decline of the Roman Empire, until the conquest by Tarik who gave his name to the strait between the two worlds that he will unify: djebel Tarik, now Gibraltar. Idriss, a completely real character, is imbued with this legendary halo that makes great destinies. Then the story bounces back with princes from Tafilalet, like him from the close family of the prophet.

 
Fès vue du tombeau des Mérinides. Jacques Bravo

Fez.

View of the Merinides tomb, in the center we can see the high minaret of the Karaouyne mosque.

Palais royal de Fès

Fez.

Royal Palace of Fez

Fès, Bab Boujloud.

Fez, Bab Boujloud.

Before an official visit, we give a little blush to this unrivaled city that has been shining for twelve centuries.

The place is very large and the wall very high. Two men are hanging from this large curtain and I still wonder how they painted the slots, so high! The reserved part reinforces the abstraction of the whole: something that comes from the fresco, from the invention of a cliff.

Les toits de la Karaouine à Fès

Fez.

The roofs of the Karaouine, in long furrows of green tiles. One of the most famous mosques in the city, in its geometric rigor which protects the treasures of the interior decoration of an exceptional richness.

Mosquée Karaouine, à l’heure des ablutions

Fez.

Karaouine Mosque, at the time of ablutions. View of the alley. The grandson escorts his grandfather, all dressed in white. But the child wears a Canadian shirt which contrasts singularly with the traditional attire of his ancestor, and remains pensive.

Prière à la mosquée Karaouine

Fez.

The first courtyard of the Karaouine seen from the roof of the neighboring Madrasa El-Attarine, because one does not enter the mosques of Morocco (except that of Casa, with attendant). Fortunately, access to madrasahs, educational centers , is free ; the look too, even if it is reduced.

Une marchande de cierges devant le mausolée Moulay Idriss.

Fez.

A candle seller in front of the Moulay Idriss II mausoleum.

For centuries we have said "the kingdom of Fez", for the good reason that the double city is really a kingdom in itself, of which all the citizens are kings. Which had never simplified the life of legal power.

Le Palais royal de Fès avec ses portes dorées par le soleil. Jacques Bravo

Fez. The doors of the Royal Palace

Le quartier des tanneries à Fès. Jacques Bravo

Fez.

The tanners' souk. This difficult and tiring function is reserved for young people.

Le souk des tanneurs à Fès. Jacques Bravo
Fès, Medersa Bou Inania. Jacques Bravo

Fez, Medersa Bou Inania.

Séchage de la soie sur une terrasse de Fès. Maroc. Jacques Bravo.

The Silk Road in Fez is first of all these immaculate rows of thread that have just taken their color. The white of these silky furrows dominates the muted colors of the city.

Filage de la soie à Fès. Maroc. Jacques Bravo

And when I saw this man who was spinning, his mind lost in thought, imbued with such serenity, I immediately thought of Gandhi, the garment in addition… He uses a material which seems elementary but which is perfectly adapted to the manufacture of a wire so thin, of which one makes so fine fabrics, that a whole clothing can be accommodated in the interior tube of a simple cane: some tenths of a millimeter. A substance without thickness, a dream.

Souk des teinturiers.Jacques Bravo
Marchand de fils de soie. Jacques Bravo

It is the continuation of this long metamorphosis which transforms a cocoon into ceremonial clothing. This shop is such a complete color chart that I couldn't resist the pleasure of buying threads of all colors (I counted nine different blues…) wound on long swollen spools, works of art in their own right. .

A chameleon nightmare!

Fresque du Palais Jamai. Fès. Jacques Bravo

When the past revisited telescopes the living present: these young women, fresco of a living room of the Jamaï palace in its very recent version, meet this

bride of Fez, in her most authentic outfit, and her discreet companion. They moreover have more the appearance of Roman than houris, to enchant paradise. But the time, in both cases, is for celebration.

Une marchande de cierges devant le mausolée Moulay Idriss.
Fès, la Zaouia Moulay Idriss II

Fez, the Zaouia Moulay Idriss II, the holy place of Fez. Women come to take a share of Moulay Idriss's "baraka", often for a pregnancy.

Fez, The part reserved for the prayer of women at the Karaouine mosque. True place of exchange.

Fès, la Zaouia Moulay Idriss II

Fez, near the Zaouia Moulay Idriss II

Une marchande de cierges devant le mausolée Moulay Idriss.

Fez, the Talha.

In this fragrant alley, so lively, an obvious fact: these watermelons arranged like heavy artillery shells or shiny bombs. It is both the abundance of the Saïs gardens and the mystery of a form that can be interpreted as one pleases. The seller is benevolent, courteous, in front of the photographer who does not want to interfere but who cannot resist: he must have seen others!

Gold in a street in the medina of Fez? No, just the play of the reflections of the copper sheets that the copperware maker unrolls on the ground. Then he will cut them to the template of the trays to be chiseled. In the desert passage, it is a sudden illumination coming from nowhere

Fès, la place des chaudronniers 

Fez, the place of boilermakers

Fez, the boilermaker and brass district

Fès. Bab Bou Jloud, la porte bleue

Fez. Bab Bou Jloud, and its famous purple color weathered by time, the most famous gateway to the imperial city, the most visited. It is the key to the city, its most direct access.

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