In the old, walled Moroccan city of Fes, you never have to look far to find examples of the traditional tile art of zelij. Gateways, mosques, courtyards in private homes, public fountains and the walls of Islamic schools are all decorated with these glazed cut tiles.
The great blue gate of Bab Boujloud is covered in intricately carved midnight blue tiles, framing a dramatic entranceway into the medina.
Here, zelij on the walls of Medersa Bou Inania (an Islamic school) features panels of Qur’anic calligraphy and complicated interlocking geometric patterns.
Zelij marks the moment you step off the dusty cobbled main street of Tala’a Kbira, and into the calm of the medersa.
Sahrij Medersa (in the Andalusian quarter of the city), was built in 1321. Now, after centuries of foot traffic, many of its tiles are worn bare.
Zelij often has a limited, striking colour palette, in this case: black, white, dark green and mustard yellow, with the natural colour of the fired clay showing through where the calligraphy has been carved out.
Patterns vary from simple checks to highly complicated combinations of geometric shapes and Arabic calligraphy.
Fes is also famous for it’s many public water fountains which are often completely covered in tiles.
I love this brass tap!
Less traditional, but graphically eye-catching was this bright pink plastic cup against the tilework.
Public fountains also often have built-in seating where old men gather to gossip and watch the world go by. I love the colours of this cushion against the simple tile pattern.