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Are there really 90,000 alleys in Morocco? Who really knows, but it feels like there are a whole lot more. The Fes (Fez) medina, or old town, is the largest car-free zones in the world, and is itself said to have more than 9,000 alleys.
“The maze of 9,400 winding alleyways in Fes el-Bali, a district in the city of Fes, Morocco, are far too narrow for cars, and too crowded for just about anything but foot traffic” – Atlas Obscura
“Fes el Bali contains more than 9500 alleys and lanes” – Frommer’s Morocco
“There are more than 9000 narrow streets in old Fes creating a maize that you are bound to get totally lost in. It’s useful to get a guide at least for a day.” – About.com
An informal survey of all Google articles on the number of alleys in Fes turns up this number frequently, turning it into fact.
Now whether that is an urban legend repeated over time to become fact, just the way some of our politicians are prone to doing, or a real fact based on geo-surveys, one can never tell.
And in this case, one shouldn’t care, as the large number hints at the intimacy and labyrinth-like structure of Fes, and of almost all medinas of Morocco.
So if you were to total up the relatively sparse white alleys of Casablanca and Tangiers, the intimate blue alleys of Chefchaouen, the intricate yellow alleys of Fes, and the smog-filled two-wheeler swarming pink alleys of Marrakech, one could easily come up with a number as large as 50,000.
Throw in the rest of the cities (the medinas of Meknes, Tetouan and Essaouira are fabulous) and one can conceivably conjure up more than 90,000.
But all this fact-checking and fake-news talk causes us to digress from the real message – that Morocco is a charming, intimate, intricate walking destination; one that is best done with a local guide, especially in Fes, where even the locals sometimes get lost.