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Fez Mellah

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Fez Mellah

Josep Renalias.JPG

Basic Information

Location Fes El Mellah
Country Morocco
City Fez

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website http://blog.travel-exploration.com/tag/jewish-mellah-fes/
Geographical Coordinates 34.05143,-4.9916


A Mellah (in Arabic ملاح, probably by ملح, "salt") is a Jewish area enclosed by walls in a city in Morocco , analogous to a ghetto Europe . The Jewish population lived confined to the Moroccan Mellah from the fifteenth century until the early nineteenth century . The Mellah was surrounded by walls and was reached by a fortified gate. Usually, the Jewish quarter was situated near the Royal Palace, residence of the governor, to protect the inhabitants of the Mellah by periodic riots. Instead, the Mellah rural were separate villages inhabited exclusively by Jews.

The first Mellah was established in the city of Fez in 1438 . In the first half of the fourteenth century , the Marinids founded, alongside Fez, the city of Homs, which was originally intended for archers and the Christian militia. In 1438 the Jews were driven from the old part of Fez to Hims, which had been built in a place known by the name of al-Mallah , "the zone salt." The term then passed to indicate the Jewish Quarter of other Moroccan cities. Initially, there was nothing offensive in the term: some documents use the term " Mellah of Muslims ", and the Jewish Quarter housed large and beautiful homes that were the favorite residence of" agents and ambassadors of foreign princes. " Subsequently, however, the popular etymology explained the word Mellah as "salt land cursed" or a place where the Jews "salting the heads of the rebels beheaded." The Mellah of Fez had not always succeeded in protecting its inhabitants. The 14 May 1465 these were almost all killed by rebels who drove the dynasty of Marinids. The attack gave way to a wave of violence against the Jews in Morocco. The immediate cause of anti-Semitic violence was the appointment of a Jew instead of vizier .

History and time period

For a long time the Mellah of Fes was the one and only in the second half of the sixteenth century (around 1557 ) the term Mellah appeared in Marrakech , with the settlement in the city from Jewish groups and treated as coming from ' Atlas and the city ​​of Aghmat (today Taroudant ), which had an ancient Jewish community. A French prisoner in Morocco from 1670 to 1681 he wrote: "In Fez and Marrakesh, Jews are separated from the rest of the population, have their own separate neighborhoods, surrounded by walls whose gates are guarded by men appointed by the king ... In the other city, are mixed with the Moors . " In 1791 , a European traveler described the Mellah of Marrakesh: "It has two large doors, which are locked every night at nine o'clock, then you do not allow anyone to enter or leave ... until ... the next morning. Jews have their own market ... ". Only in 1682 a third Mellah was founded in Meknes , the new capital of Sultan Ismail Ibn Sharif .

Photo Gallery

  • photos by Josep Renalias

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