The medina is a meeting point of merchants, tourists, touts, artisans, holymen, schoolchildren, bakers, butchers and beggars. Inside the tall, clay walls stand ancient structures, souks, homes, mosques and a few public squares interconnected by a maze of petites ruelles. Some medinas are more peaceful than others, but to get lost in these little lanes and let your senses soak in the beautiful scenes that surround you, is to attain nothing short of an ultimate traveler's high.
Unless, of course, you've got a wedding to attend. Pem and I did seriously think for a few moments that we may miss Harry and Sophia's wedding ceremony because we couldn't find our way out of the souk. We had entered innocently following successful visits to the Maison de la Photographie and Madrasa Ben Youssef, but as we readied to return home, we realized we had no clue where we were. We followed green sign after green sign indicating "Jemaa el-Fna Square" but the labyrinth continued. We hurried past shops selling leather slippers, elaborate jewelry, brightly painted tajines, glistening sweets, even wedding decor and caftans (at which point we thought that may be the closest we'd get to a wedding). Our winding trail finally deposited us onto a cobblestone patch in the sun. We recognized the stretch of stalls before us. With towering mounds of dried fruits and fresh jus d'orange, they led the way toward our guesthouse, and we ran.
The ancient medinas of Marrakech and Fes are both on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Below are some scenes from inside their walls...