The 24th Annual Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, takes place June 12 to June 25, 2019, in the holy city of Fes, Morocco. The Festival was founded by the goodwill association Fez Saiss in the city of Fez after the 1991 Gulf War as a statement of tolerance and has expanded gathering musicians from sacred Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions across 11 centuries. It is widely acclaimed as one of the world’s great musical events bringing together in the city of Fez Morocco, an ecumenical lineup of musicians and performers from every corner of our planet for a week of artistic excellence in the city of Fez, Morocco’s ancient holy city. Fez represents the spiritual heart of Islam as practiced in Morocco – peaceful, pluralistic, generous and cheerful. It honors all the world’s spiritual traditions and it dissolves musical boundaries.
Styles of spiritual and sacred music at the City Fez Festival vary from transcendent to trance-inducing. Sacred Music can claim to hold curative properties, convey religious teachings, praise God, or channel the spirit of the deities. Some sacred music traditions are centuries old, while others are relatively new; some are serious, and others joyful. But despite the vast differences between the cultures in the music sense, everyone at the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music has come for one reason: to share the way this sacred music allows them to commune with their higher power.
Cross Cultural Services is partnering with Fes Festival Sacred Music Association in the city of Fez to promote the Fez World Sacred Music Festival. Cross-Cultural Services develops online environments and targeted digital media strategies with a goal to make this event known to world sacred music lovers and savvy travelers in general and North American traveler in particular. It has launched the Journey’s new website which includes trip information, artist background and videos, and more!
Once you land at the Mohamed V Airport in Casablanca Morocco, your guide will meet you at your arrival gate to take you immediately to check-in to your hotel in Rabat (Capital of Morocco). This is a wonderful short drive of about 45 miles through the lush farms and exotic plants. You will spend your day discovering the delights that Rabat has to offer. Your guide will take on a historical and lively tour of the Jewish quarter, the Mellah in the Heart of the city starting at Place Sidi Makhlouf. The 12-century ramparts are best seen from this landmark. Walk up to Bab Chellah in the medina and cross Sidi Fateh St. This will lead you to the traditional Souk Laghzel (Yarn market). Your guide will introduce you to the importance of this guild on a textile role in the Moroccan society.
Later, you will cross to the citadel of the Oudaya Kasbah entering from its 12th-century main gate to explore an extraordinary Morocco medieval Moorish marvel overlooking the delta of Bourgreg River. You will have the opportunity to visit the old-fashioned Moorish gardens, stop in a traditional coffee house for mint tea Morocco National drink, and in between explore the Oudaya museum of tribal arts and crafts of Morocco. A docent will introduce you to traditional Berber Textiles. You will continue your quest exiting the Oudaya Kasbah and up the hill to visit the Hassan Tower and Mohamed the V Mausoleum, an emblem of the real Moroccan architecture at its finest. You will reach the Royal Palace and the Necropolis of Chellah at the end of your tour. Finally, you will return to the hotel for dinner and other accommodations.
The first stop will be the ancient Roman city of Volubilis. Volubilis was a critical city in the imperial Roman department of Mauritania (modern-day Morocco, and Western Sahara) during the reign of Caracalla. Jumping forward in time and just a few minutes away is the venerated citadel of Moulay Idris, founded in the 8th century by Moulay Idris Al Akbar, grandson of the Prophet Mohamed (s.a.w.s). This sacred citadel is considered to be both the cradle of Sufism in Morocco as well as the first Islamic capital for the premier Arab dynasty of Morocco.
The next stop, the imperial city of Meknes. Meknes is a 17th Century city built by Moulay Ismail to rival the city of Fez. It is also considered to be the Versailles of Morocco. Finally, you have reached your destination, the ninth century city of Fez. In the evening, you will get a taste of the greatest of the Imperial Cities of Morocco. You will visit the sights on the outside of the ancient walled city, including the ramparts, the gates, and the Borjs (Moorish Forts). After this introductory aperitif to the city of Fez, you will dine in your hotel and prepare for day three: The city of Fez!
The most ancient of the imperial capitals of Morocco and the complete medieval city of the Islamic world, the city of Fez is reminiscent of a city suspended in time, unfazed by the constantly evolving world outsides of its walls. Time spent in the city Fez will reveal much about the sophistication of the Moroccan artisan, providing an unparalleled learning experience to those who cross its path. Your morning will be spent visiting the Medina. Our specialized guide will take you on a historic discovery of the city of Fez starting at the King's Palace and its Meshwar with ramparts and majestic gates.
Next, you will explore the Jewish quarter, a 15th-century citadel with all its Moorish maze architecture and medieval glory in Morocco. Visits to Sephardic synagogues and mausoleums of holy Rabbis will be the highlights of this part of town. Then, we will drive to the Merinides hill to visit their necropolis over the Northern hills of the city. Here you will enjoy the best panoramic view on the old walled Medina (largest in Morocco), brimful with its countless minarets to call for the prayers in a city that has responded to these calls for 12 centuries. Drive down the hills to the gate of Bab Guissa to leave your vehicle and enter an ancient world of Morocco. the city of Fez has preserved its Medina as it was centuries ago. Not even a bicycle is able to be used as a tool for transportation. Only donkeys, mules and horses are able to help to move all that the city produces and needs as supplies.
The first guilds you will immediately encounter are the cobblers, the saddlers, and blacksmiths interlaced by some caravansaries for tribesmen who come from the surrounding areas to trade and supply their needs. Down the hill to Juteya you will encounter all sorts of crafts but noticeably carpenters and leather workers as one of the traditional tanneries is not far. This walk will lead you to El Ashabine square with its variety of activities. From there, you will find your way to the Sgha square which will lead you to Attarine (spices merchants ST) then Souk el Henna and the Mausoleum of Moulay Idris, the founder of the city Fez. Next, to it, you will visit the Nejjarine square with its famous fountain, its guild of carpentry and the museum of folk arts at the Fondouk.
You will walk to the tannery and on to visit the great Mosque university of Al Quarrawiyyine, passing by Shemma'ine, the market of dried fruits. After that, you will visit the Medersa Attarine and walk to Sbetryyine, a guild of bookbinders, which will lead you to the Seffarine Square, where the tapping of metalworkers is still deafening passerby as it was the case for centuries. You will break for lunch then continue exploring the marvels of the city of Fez Medina. These will highlight the Dyers souk, Foundouk Tetouani and the shrine of Sidi Ahmed Tijani. You will end your walk at foundouk Lihoudi where a local Fez family will host you for traditional mint tea in their home. After dinner we will take you to the festival Grand Opening
Today is a day to explore nature, Morocco's culture from the insider perspective and the spiritual healing of Sufi Saints landmarks. In the morning, you will travel to the Hot springs of Moulay Yacob. A hot spring so popular all over Morocco. Located in a small, charming Berber village at the foothills of the Rif Mountains, the springs are famous for their healing powers. Legend affirms that Moulay Yacob was a Sufi master with the power of healing different diseases, especially muscular and skin disorders. The sanctuary is in the heart of this hilly village where you find herbalist and traditional healers still curing locals and visitors as the tradition holds. In their small workshops and even in the streets around the sanctuary, these healers are still selling herbs and pouches of compounds in the same manner as medieval times.
Across the valley from the village you can spot a mausoleum crowning the hill called Lalla Shafia (meaning literally "The Healer Lady"). It was indeed her name as a saintly healer who was handed this secret power of healing from her father Moulay Yacob. Even today, many women come from remote areas in North Africa seeking her Baraka (blessings). It is a venerated area and a spa for the poor and the wealthy. The traditional baths are down the hill where these hot springs pump 138 degree hot water from as deep as 470 feet below. There is of course another spa bath with all modern amenities, where you can enjoy all kinds of treatments or simply bathe in an indoor domed pool, which gets its hot water straight from natural springs. After a picnic lunch, you will return to Fez for the afternoon concerts, followed by dinner at your hotel and the Festival's evening events.
To day we will have a taste of what is Sufism in Morocco. Your morning will be spent on an excursion to the Rif Mountains, where you will visit the Sidi Ahmed al Barnoussi shrine. You will enjoy a typical couscous picnic lunch over the red poppy fields with local Sufi scribes. Traditionally, this couscous lunch is considered to be a Sadaka, which is an offering to feed the the Sufi retreat of deovoted Mureeds, the guests and the passersby. Upon your arrival to the shrine in the peaks of Mount Zalagh, you will be met by masters of local Sufi Music, the Jajouka musicians and dancers of Morocco, who will enchant you with haunting melodies of their oboes and drums – a ceremony that you will treasure for the rest of your life.
Sidi Ahmed El Bernoussi (Zerrouq) was born in Fez in 1482 and died in 1534 AD. He took from many scholars and sheikhs of his time mainly in the Quarawiyyine School of Thoughts, especially Sidi Abdellah Fekhar and Lalla Oum Hani Abdoussia. He traveled on a Sufi journey to Mekkah, where he studied. Then, he traveled to Cairo to learn from many sheikhs. He was a master in Tafssir, numerology and alchemy. He contributed to the Moroccan intellect a vast number of books and essays. His best work is the foundation of Tassawuf and the meanings of the attributes of Allah. Many of his disciples have followed in his footsteps and became eminent sheikhs as Sidi Al Hattab al Kabir, Imam Shaarani and the Quotb Abul Hassan Bekri. He was a scholar, an imam, a moufti, a poet, a sheikh, a fequih and a faquir (well venerated in Morocco). At the end of his life, he left Fez for Sabrata west of Tripolis, the location of his burial site.
His school of Sufism and Alchemy, and retreat sanctuary are still in function on the outskirts of Mount Zalagh overlooking the Old city of Fez. His Mureeds are still holding on the tradition faithful to his wadhifa up to our days. No sheikh in this tariqua has ever claimed his Sirr. So, Sidi Ahmed El Bernoussi remains the sheikh of his mureeds even now. After lunch, you will have a tea ceremony and close with blissful prayers. You will return to Fez for the afternoon festival activities, dinner, and the evening's events.
Today is devoted to taking a leisurely break from the busy pace of this journey. You will have the entire morning at your leisure, free to do whatever you please in the city or simply to relax in your hotel to reflect on this marvelous experience. In the afternoon, you will attend the afternoon scheduled sacred music concerts, followed by dinner and the Festival's evening events. Later on, for those who feel resilient and wish to explore more, a Sufi master will open the doors of his home to share with you a Sufi gathering for Sufi dhikr and chants in the Harraki Order way. This Sufi gathering is only for this Morocco Discoveries Tour group, as it is not open to the public. This brotherhood dates back to Sidi Abu Lhassan Chadhuli, born in Morocco but buried in the Idab desert in Egypt. He was a disciple of Cheikh Moulay Abdeslam Ben Mashish. The current Cheikh, who is responsible for the renaissance of the brotherhood, is Imam Sidi Nour El Houda Ibrahimi Andalouissi Chadhuli. Afterwards, you will enjoy dinner at the hotel. Then, you will experience the evening sacred events of the festival.
The morning will be spent at your leisure, and after lunch, you will journey to the afternoon concert at Dar Batha. The evening concerts will be at Bab Makina. After the concert, Morocco Discoveries will offer a night of Issawa healing music. Come and experience the Hadra circle dance to heal the world with the Sufi drummers of Issawa Tariqa. The Aissaoui Order has the most exciting sacred drumming with invocations to Allah praising all prophets and saints. Their slogan states: "Come to visit Moulay Al Hadi Sidi Ben Aissa, warrantor of his visitor's wishes." The adepts of this order use in both their private and public meetings the key phrase: "God is eternal." "Allah Da'em".
An excursion to Sidi Harazem thermal springs is offered in the afternoon. Evening festival concert will be at Bab Makina. This will be a relaxing day.
In the early morning, you will enjoy a sunrise Sufi ceremony offered over the Merinides dynasty necropolis looking East for a dramatic sunrise over the sleeping giant of the 9th century Medina. Return to the hotel for breakfast and relax. Your day will include an optional day trip to the ancient Jewish city of Sefrou. Predating Fez by a thousand years, Sefrou once played a vital role as the last stop for the sub-Saharan caravans transporting goods to the European markets. There, you will visit the shrine of Sidi Lahcen Al Yussi, a venerated Sufi master who was considered the guardian and sacred custodian of Sefrou. In addition, you will visit the mausoleums of other Rabbis, as well as the city's synagogues. On your return trip to Fez, you will visit the ancient Christian village of B'Halil, which is known for its distinctive troglodyte dwellings. Upon your arrival at Fez, you will attend the Festival's evening events.
In the morning, you will attend a lecture on Sacred Music traditions, followed by the Festival's afternoon Musical events at the Dar Batha Museum. Dinner will be at the hotel, followed by the evening Festival events at Bab Makina, the court of the King's palace.
You will spend your morning visiting the Andalucian part of the Medina on the eastern side of the river, where you will learn the history of the settler Moors, who arrived from Spain during the 13th century. Learn about their lifestyle that is still intact today. Shop for music instruments and other artifacts of your interest as the Andalusian market known for these artifacts. The Festival's afternoon sacred music concerts will take place at Dar Batha, followed by dinner at the hotel and, afterwards, the Festival's closing ceremony of World Sacred Music 2019.
You will spend your day discovering the rural environs of the Atlas Mountains' Berber villages, wards, and nomadic settlements. Covered with evergreen pines, tall cedar trees, and poplars, and laced with flowing streams, your first view of the Middle Atlas will appear oddly un-Moroccan. Passing by Imouzzer, with a quick stop at the Swiss-like town of Ifrane, you will soon come across the first real town of the Middle Atlas, Azrou. Azrou is an important market center for the region's Berber tribes, located at a major junction of mountain routes. Your driver will take a little detour in a cedar forest to introduce you to one of the oldest inhabitants of this region, the Barbary apes. This may also coincide with the encounter of a nomadic family at its temporary encampment. As nomads are very hospitable people, whenever we encounter them we are all invited at least for a mint tea under their tents.
At Khenifra, the Middle Atlases give way to the High Atlas Mountains, whose peaks are visible through the haze, soaring to over 12,000 feet. After lunch, you will descend the Atlas Mountains finally arriving in the foothills which overlook the magnificent oasis city of Marrakech Alhamra. Some of the aforementioned stops will include visits to Berber villages, scenic views, and traditional markets. You will conclude your day with dinner and other accommodations at your hotel.
You will devote your morning to the exploration of Marrakech's many historical sites, starting at the Menara, a magnificent pool surrounded by flowerbeds, reflecting the image of an exquisite Moorish edifice. It was constructed in 1866 for dignitaries, who enjoyed glorious sunsets with the ethereal Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. The pool also functions as an innovative irrigation system that is serving dry life in the desert. Your tour will cover many impressive sites, including the Koutoubia Minaret (which is identical to la Giralda, a tower found in Sevilla, Spain), and the Saadien tombs, which demonstrate Moorish architecture at its best. The tombs consist of sixteenth-century mausoleums, which had lain walled-in and undiscovered until 1917. Next, you will explore the gardens of the Agdal then the Marjorelle. Finally, you will return to your hotel for dinner and other accommodations.
In your last day in Morocco, you will depart for the Casablanca Airport early in the morning. There you will catch a flight back home with a lifetime's worth of memories packed neatly into your suitcase.