Fes el Bali is the oldest and walled part of Fes, Morocco. Fes el Bali was originally founded as the capital of the Idrisid Dynasty in between 789 and 808 AD. Besides being famous for having the oldest university in the World Fes el Bali, with a total population of 156 000, is also believed to be the biggest car-free urban area in the world. Fes el Bali was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1981 under the name Medina of Fes. The world heritage site includes Fes el Bali's urban fabric and walls and a buffer zone around Fes el Bali. Fes el Bali is, along with Fes Jdid and the French-created Ville nouvelle, one out the 3 main districts in Fes.
As the capital for his newly acquired empire, Idris ibn Abdallah chose to build a new town on the right bank of the Fes river in 789 a.d. Initially a big proportion of the population were refugees who were fleeing from an uprising in Cordoba (modern-day Spain) However in 809 a.d. his son, Idris II, decided to found a capital of his own on the opposite bank of the Fes River. There were many refugees who decided to settle in the new city this time too, however this time they fled from an uprising in Kairouan (located in modern Tunisia)
Even though they were only separated by a relatively small river the cities developed separately and became two individual cities until they were unified in the 11th century by the Almoravids. One good example of how the refugees contributed to making Fes flourish during the early years is the University of Al-Karaouine that was built by a Tunisian refugee in 859 AD and it is considered the oldest university in the world.
Fes el Bali is the main tourist attraction of Fes and for the past few years Fes el Bali has seen a boom in the number of visitors that come here. The main sight is the Medina in itself, how people go on living their daily life as they have done for centuries, the local markets and the architecture. However in comparison to cities like Marrakech tourism in Fes el Bali is still very modest.
According to Unesco there are two main problems and threats to this World heritage site
A ever-increasing population in an already dangerously overpopulated area and the uncontrolled urban development which is a result of that.
The deterioration of the buildings
Because of the vulnerability of the site the State has adopted a special plan to care for this world heritage site and every building and monument it contain. The aim is to prevent houses from collapsing, increase sustainable tourism and to safeguard everything.
Marinid Rulers of Fes: