The city of Fez is located in northern Morocco at the axes of two main communication routes that connected the Atlantic to the central Magrib and the Straights of Gibraltar to the Africa. Fez was probably founded in the late eighth-century by the Idrisids, eventually developing through the merging of two separate cities on opposite banks of the Wadi Fez river. The two cities spent almost a century under the rule of the Umayyads of al-Andalus, before a succession of Berber dynasties conquered it. The Almoravid conquest of the city in the late eleventh-century was a pivotal moment, when the previously autonomous cities were united into one, spurring new development in the form of a fortress, new urban quarters, and water infrastructure. Upon the Almohad conquest of the city in 1145 the form of the city was changed again - the Almohads razed much of the Almoravid fortifications before constructing new walls and gates in the thirteenth-century, which to a large degree have survived.
Conquered again in the thirteenth-century by the Marinids, Fez became the capital city of the dynasty. Always second in importance to Marrakech, which had been the capital of both the Almoravids and Almohads, Fez developed into a major intellectual and commercial center under the Marinids. Beginning in 674/1276 the Marinids constructed Fes al-Jadid ("New Fes"), a new administrative citadel surrounded by a double wall, west of the old walled city, which then was known as Fes al-Bali ("Ancient Fes"). The Marinids embellished their populous capital with the numerous madrasas for which it is famous and constructed estates in the countryside around the city.
Fez remained under Marinid rule until it was conquered by the Sa'di dynasty in the sixteenth-century, and then again by the 'Alawi dynasty in 1666. In the late nineteenth-century Fes al-Jadid and Fes al-Bali were united with new walls.
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Bab Bu Jallud is a 1913 monumental gateway with triple openings, and is located within the fortifications of Fez, serving as the main connection between Fez al-Bali and Fez Jedid. It is located along what used to be one of the most utilized roads in Fez, around which fondouk-carvanserais (animal sheds / warehouses) were grouped.
This road connects Bab Mahrouk and the exterior walls of the medina to Tal'aa Kebira, past the two monumental hexagonal towers framing Bab Filala to the west and the wide empty space to the east. The gate is aligned along the northwest-southeast axis, perpendicular to the Tal'aa Kebira road. To the west of the gate is the Qasbah Bu Jallud, to its east is Fez al-Bali, and to the north is the Qasbah Filala.
Bab Bu Jallud is approximately 15 meters wide and 4 meters deep, formed by a sandwich of two walls enclosing a hollowed-out space. To close the openings of the gate, large wooden doors rotate 90 degrees outwards from within these two walls. All three openings are horseshoe arches, consisting of a larger central one flanked by two smaller openings, which are themselves flanked by two blind horseshoe arched windows located at the ends of the gate. The walls on either sides of the gateway step down to connect to the shorter walls of Fez al-Bali. Restaurants and souks abut the walls leading up to the gate from the exterior. Upon approach, one can see two minarets framed by the openings in the portal. The larger minaret is that of Bu 'Inaniyya Madrasa, and the smaller one that of Mosque Sidi Lezzaz.
The two walls of the portal are richly decorated. The arches are bordered with tripled scalloped edges, which are framed with zilij (glazed tiles typical of north African architecture, generally colored yellow, blue, green and turquoise, and used in mosaics) painted with floral motifs. A decorative blind arched window above each of the two smaller arched openings is also decorated with zilij. The portal elevation that faces the exterior of Fez al-Bali is faced with blue tiles, while the one that faces the interior of the medina is faced with green tiles. A geometric lozenge pattern then frames these tiles. At each end of the portal have been placed two non-structural columns, which are dwarfed by the massiveness of the portal. Finally, the whole gateway is capped by crenellations.
The construction of the portal in 1913 took over the functions of an ancient gateway, located to the west of the present Bab Bu Jallud. The older door has been described as a simple door which used to be the only way to access the medina from Fez Jedid. Recent descriptions of the present-day medina do not indicate whether the ancient door is still extant.
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Gaudio, Attilio. 1982. Fès, Joyau de la Civilisation Islamique. Paris: Presses de l'Unesco, 40.
Le Tourneau, Roger. c1949. Fès Avant le Protectorat. Casablanca: Publications de l'Institut des hautes études Marocaines, 110, 123, 149, 191.