49, Oued Souafine, Akibt Sbaa, Douh, Fes 30000, Morocco
Photo by J.D. Dallet / age fotostock
Royal PalacesThe palaces in this city that are still occupied by Moroccan royalty are strictly off-limits. However, the el-Glaoui Palace and the crumbling el-Mokri Palace are ruinous and magnificent in equal measure and well worth a visit. The latter was built by Si Tayeb el-Mokri, the finance minister, in the early 20th century and his taste for all things European shines throughout, from an extravagant gold-leaf cupola and grand piano to extraordinary black-and-white photographs dotted among the traditional portraits of various sultans and pashas. The rather less state-of-the-art pile that is the el-Galoui was the folly of warlord Thami el-Glaoui, who was rather more intent on keeping the status quo exactly the way it suited him. He was instrumental in sending Sultan Mohammed V into exile, and was notorious for cruelty to rural peasants and for a knack of filling his coffers with ill-gotten gains. The people never really forgave him for his sins, and though he entertained the likes of Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin within these walls, it has a curiously dour aspect, which reflects perhaps the character of the man. The palace is currently closed for renovation, but as with most things in Fes, a word in the guardian's ear and silver in his palm may just reward you with a sneak peek inside.