What sets them apart from other medieval cities is that while other cities' old towns have changed and evolved, in Fez and Acre the old, medieval, walled city still stands as it always had. With the advent of gunpowder, changes in defensive strategy and the need to modernize and grow, many cities took down their defensive walls, and the old medieval town was replaced by, or grew into a city. However, with the case of the Moroccan city of Fez and the Israeli city of Acre, the old city remained in its medieval state while the areas outside developed with the modern world. Acre and Fez have attempted to solve the problems faced by the people living within the walls, and have been met with different levels of success as well as encountering additional difficulties in the gentrification process. This case study compares the situation in each of the cities, how they attempted to combat the problems and their results.
Fez (or Fes), founded in 789 AD as the capital of Morocco, is now the 2th largest city in Morocco with a population of about 1,044,376 (2010). Fez consists of 3 main districts: Fès el-Bali (Old Fez), the original town of Fez built on the river the Oued Fès by the Arabs; Fès el-Jdid (New Fez), an extension to the old town built in 1250 by an invading Arab group to house their soldiers and later to house the city's growing Jewish population; and Nouvelle Ville, a new town built by the French Colonials in 1916, south of the other 2 districts. While Fez as a whole did develop through the 20th Century, in Fès el-Bali and Fès el-Jdid, part of the Medina' the walled section of the city, many aspects of medieval life remained (Codrington).
[...] Verner, Arin. One of Many Portals Separating Neighborhoods, Fes-al-Bali Photograph. Carfree Cities. New York: International N. pag. Print. [...]
[...] The problem lies with the density of Fes el-Bali. Introducing new technology could pose a danger to the adobe structures and the concentration of houses inhibits any modern transportation. Introducing new machinery into the city amplified the problem of building decay since the machine vibrations would damage the adobe structures. As a response the pottery industry in Fez has moved out of the medina as to use modern technology; however this took it far away from its markets in the city. [...]
[...] Both Fez and Acre have very similar problems in their old cities. Although historically significant, their buildings are undergoing decay, and the populations are stuck in poverty. Development takes place away from the old town: in the district of Nouvelle Ville in the case of Fez, and in the nearby city of Haifa in the case of Acre. Both cities have the potential to be very lucrative tourist destinations, but the poor condition they are in hinders them. Attempts to overcome these problems and gentrify the inner cities have been met with different problems for each case. [...]
[...] Similarly, the port of Acre was replaced by the more modern port of the nearby city of Haifa, which would grow to be Israel's 3rd largest city. This has caused the old towns to maintain their medieval appearance and character, potentially making them prime tourist destinations, and resulting in both of them being declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, the lack of development has caused numerous problems for both the Medina of Fez and Old Acre. Fès el-Bali, and to a lesser extent Fès el-Jdid, deals with an extremely high population density, urban decay, obsolete water and sewage systems, pollution, and the lack of technology in the city. [...]
using our reader.