One of the purported 9,000 alleys of the old medina in Fes (Fez) Morocco

The 90,000 alleys of Morocco

One of the purported 9,000 alleys of the old medina in Fes (Fez) Morocco
One of the purported 9,000 alleys of the old medina in Fes (Fez) Morocco

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.

Donkeys have right if way everywhere in Fez, Morocco
Donkeys have right if way everywhere in Fez, Morocco

“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

Even the most local of local guides get lost in the maze of the alleys of Fez. What chance do you have?
Even the most local of local guides get lost in the maze of the alleys of Fez. What chance do you have?

“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

Women of Chefchaouen started painting this city blue just about 20 years ago, turning it from an unknown blip to one of the most sought after destinations in the world.
Women of Chefchaouen started painting this city blue just about 20 years ago, turning it from an unknown blip to one of the most sought after destinations in the world.

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.

The intimacy and tranquility of the alleys of Chefchaouen are in stark contrast to those of Fes or Marrakech
The intimacy and tranquility of the alleys of Chefchaouen are in stark contrast to those of Fes or Marrakech

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.

The maze of Chefchaouen is almost as bad as Fes, but the town itself is compact enough where it is fun getting lost and not stressful.
The maze of Chefchaouen is almost as bad as Fes, but the town itself is compact enough where it is fun getting lost and not stressful.

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.

It is said that you cannot get an electricity or water permit from the government if you don’t paint your house or business in the Marrakech pink, Morocco
It is said that you cannot get an electricity or water permit from the government if you don’t paint your house or business in the Marrakech pink, Morocco

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.

The alleys of Marrakech are a consistent pink (duh, pink city), but a lot more noisy, smoke-filled and busy compared to Fes. It wasn’t pleasurable walking through Marrakech, Morocco
The alleys of Marrakech are a consistent pink (duh, pink city), but a lot more noisy, smoke-filled and busy compared to Fes. It wasn’t pleasurable walking through Marrakech, Morocco

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.

Narrow alleys are hard to come by in Marrakech, Morocco
Narrow alleys are hard to come by in Marrakech, Morocco

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