Photographer's Note

‘Fes - Bab Mahrouk & market’

I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to Morocco. Back home I searched on TE which pictures have been posted lately so I wouldn’t post one with exactly the same view. A little surprising I found a very beautiful old picture of Bab Mahrouk in Fes el Bali, uploaded very recently while I was in Morocco.
The photo I’m referring to is posted by Roger Godet (rodgerg) and is named ‘Fes 1973’. It’s an amazing testimony of a bygone era, very atmospheric, showing the daily life in combination with the beautiful architecture of the city gate Bab Mahrouk, the walls and a minaret.

When I saw this photo I looked immediately at the pictures I’ve taken there a few days ago at an almost same POV.
There are several differences between the picture of Roger of 1973 and mine.
Today the city gate has been restored, the site has been leveled and paved. More people have exchanged their djellaba with western clothes and what you might not see on the picture but I do know, is that besides food now more contemporary ‘western’ products are sold. Also today a lot of parabolic antennas can be seen.

But the market is still there in front of the magnificent city gate Bab Mahrouk, a market visited by habitants of Fes and not by foreign tourists, a market where you can buy everything needed in the everyday household of a Moroccon family and not a market with items for tourists.
There’s still the wonderful view of the city gate, the town walls, the fortress Borj Nord and the minaret of a mosque behind the walls in the medina.

I’ve posted two photos taken on different days. One shows also the Borj Nord left behind the Bab Mahrouk and on the other one you can see the same minaret as on Rogers picture. I couldn’t decide which one of both photos would be better as the main picture.

Despite the changes, I think (maybe my very personal idea that is not shared by all) that even today the atmosphere is still very typical Moroccan, with a busy but cozy ambience, somewhat oriental and one of the reasons to visit a town like Fes.

I absolutely admit that Rogers ‘Fez 1973’ has a lot of charm, expresses some nostaligia (especially for fans of Morocco) and suggests that his trip in 1973 must have been a real EXCITING one.

From :

Bab Mahrouk is a monumental gate located within the ramparts of Fez al-Bali. It was built by the fourth Almohad Caliph, Mohammed en-Nasir (reg. 1199-1214) in the twelfth century, after the destruction of the original Almoravid ramparts and gate. The gate's name, Bab Mahrouk, means "gate of the burnt," and was coined after the hanging and burning of a rebel fighter on the very day that the gate was finished. Throughout its history, the gate has been associated with macabre practices. The former Almoravid gateway, Bab ech-Chari'a, or Gate of the Oratory, was likewise named; there, rebels were beheaded and their heads suspended for public viewing. It was also the location where the accused were tortured.

When the use of an execution platoon was initiated (nineteenth/twentieth century), the execution area was accordingly placed near Bab Mahrouk. The local expression, still circulating in the twentieth century, "Cut off my head and hang it in Bab Mahrouk," provides evidence that the gate's ancient auxiliary function is still present in the local collective imagination.

Bab Mahrouk is located east of the Qasbah Cherarda, and faces the Fez-Rabat road to the north and the Qasbah Filala to the east. It is oriented to the northwest, within the fortifications of Fez al-Bali. The gateway is located on the western wall of a massive canted bastion, approximately 16 m wide by 20 m long. The opening is in the shape of a horseshoe arch within a rectangular frame in the wall.

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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5994 W: 22 N: 14352] (57111)
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