When the Nejjarine Foundouk, "Inn of the Carpenters," first opened its doors in the 12th century, it was one of the largest "hotels" in the world, comparable to palaces being built in Europe at the same time and capable of housing 100 or more merchants. The foundouk was designed to meet the needs of the thriving commercial center that Fes had become. The massive double door that can be seen today marked the foundouk's entrance and was designed to admit a traveler on camel or horseback; it also includes two smaller panels that swing open to admit people on foot. The foundouk's purpose eventually shifted toward accommodating traveling merchants who would stay upstairs and keep their animals and sell their wares downstairs. Reflecting the decline of the city in the 17th and 18th centuries, the foundouk was used solely to house pack animals, although in more recent times it was also used as lodging for students at the nearby Kairouine University.
Standing proudly in a corner of the small Nejjarine Square and the carpenter's souk from which it is named, the foundouk has been beautifully restored and now houses three levels of exhibits centered around a large, pleasant courtyard. Each floor has three or four rooms to a side, each opening onto an internal veranda that overlooks the central courtyard. The ground floor and the first floor are strengthened by heavy cedar beams; the top-floor veranda boasts geometric latticework railing. The foundouk's former rooms now house displays of traditional woodworking tools, cooking implements, musical instruments, Islamic literature, and other artifacts. With explanations only in French and Arabic, the displays are really only interesting as a whole; it's the restored building itself that is the star attraction. In reference to the building's original function, hanging in the courtyard are two sets of scales big enough to weigh a small child. On the rooftop terrace is a pleasant cafe and a wood minbar of four small steps that offers a sweeping view of the northern medina. The entire square and souk were also restored, and in the alleys leading off there are the carpenters' workshops, surrounded by the sweet smell of cedar wood.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Very Highly Recommended 2010
- Place Nejjarine
- Daily 10am-5pm
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