Otherworldly. That’s the word that comes to mind. Filled with Sufis and storied saints, this city, we learn, was founded by refugees expelled from Spain in 1492–Muslims and Jews alike. The dual heritage was strong until about 50 years ago; the respect for diversity, and the peaceful spirit, remain.
Our local guide, Abdul Salaam (“servant of peace”), takes us to one of the oldest buildings in the Medina. Originally a caravansary, maybe 500 years ago, it still has the original walls and the structure of its original use, with stalls that once housed the horses of the caravan. The blacksmith is working in a shop that has been used as a smithy for centuries.
Abdul Salaam leads us through a seeming endless, twisted labyrinth of blue streets, stopping here and there to describe something of historic significance. Mostly, I’m just awed by the strangeness of the colors and shapes of this place.
Finally, a chance to stop and chill in a streetside cafe with some mint tea.
Later, the Kasbah, the old fortress, opens for visits. Gorgeous garden inside the walls, then old fortress towers with great views.