Lively and hospitable, Fes does not give up its secrets easily. From the surrounding hilltops where the Merinid tombs seem to slumber, a shimmering sea of green copper roofs rises above the sun-splashed city walls. Hidden behind this anonymity is a heritage that is only sometimes revealed to travellers.
Fes was for many centuries the political and intellectual capital of Morocco, and became a centre of encounter and exchange. It is said that Sylvestre II (Gerbert d’Aurillac) who was Pope from 999 to 1003, stayed here in his youth to study, and later introduced Arabic numerals to Europe.
Maïmonides, the Jewish physician and philosopher, also lived here for some years during which he taught at the Qaraouine University. The works of this philosopher are a wonderful illustration of the symbiosis that existed in Andalusia between Jewish and Islamic cultures, and a similar echo is found in Fes.
The Fes Festival of World Sacred Music and the Fes Forum, founded respectively in1994 and 2001, are dedicated to the traditions of knowledge, art and spirituality of the city.
Since their creation, these events have enjoyed a growing success.
The Fes Festival was designated in 2001 by the United Nations as one of the major events contributing in remarkable fashion to the dialogue between civilisations.
Parallel to the Festival an international network of support and media interest has developed. Every two years in the United States, Spirit of Fes Inc organises a programme of Festival concerts and Forum events across 20 American cities.
Another tour was organised in October and November 2006 in several cities in the US, including a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Thus the 'Spirit of Fes' radiates from Fes across the world.
Several other cities such as Milan, London and Madrid wish to become relay-stations to spread further the message of the Festival and the Fes Forum: that of interfaith dialogue through music, the creation of a culture of peace encouraged by globalisation and respectful of ethical and spiritual values.