Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Seffarine Gets a Makeover

Place Seffarine is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the old Medina of Fez. With its large central plane tree giving a little shade, it is an ideal place to spend some time and soak up the atmosphere of the medina

On one side of the square is the Kairaouine Library; on the other, the Seffarine Medersa, and all around are coppersmiths hammering their wares into shape: huge cauldrons, stills for making rosewater, kettles, pots and samovars.

Now the square is getting a makeover. The row of small shops are being refurbished in traditional style and the Restaurant Seffarine, with its panoramic terrace, is now open to visitors wanting to rest a while and have a snack. For those who simply want mint tea or a coffee the Cremerie La Place is still in business at the Kairaouine end of the square, opposite the street leading down to the tanneries.

Restaurant Seffarine is situated above the copper souk
Restoration and renewal of the small shops continues
The roof of the Seffarine Hammam

According to the University of Liverpool, the Seffarine Hammam "should be restored as one of the most interesting public baths in Fez, especially with regard to the undressing room of its historical section, as this is one of the rare meshlah of the city that still preserves the original layout and decorative features. It also displays the traditional Roman hypocaust heating system and the original furnace.

The practice of going to the hammam is, in fact, still very popular in Morocco, in contrast with other Mediterranean areas. In particular, in Fez this is evident not only in poor areas, but also in recently developed wealthy quarters, where new hammams are still being built, in spite of the fact that the existing dwellings have their own private bathroom conveniences.

Restaurant Seffarine is the brainchild of the owners of the very popular Cremerie La Place. They have capitalised on the view of the copper souk in one direction and the Seffarine Hammam in the other.

  "Visitors get the spectacular view for free" - Mustapha

Mustapha, who runs the Cremerie, told The View From Fez that Seffarine needed a proper restaurant. "Not expensive. Main courses around fifty dirhams and they get the spectacular view for free!"

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