|In 1980, UNESCO launched a campaign to safeguard the cultural heritage of the city of Fez. Founded in the ninth century and home to the oldest university in the world, Fez reached its height in the 13th-14th centuries under the Marinids, when it took over from Marrakesh as the capital of the kingdom. The urban fabric and the principal monuments in the medina – madrasas, fondouks, palaces, residences, mosques, fountains, etc. – date from that period. Fez became a focal point for Islamic thought and art, and also an affluent commercial centre. It was at the crossroads linking the Mediterranean to Black Africa and the eastern Maghreb to the Atlantic. Although the political capital was transferred to Rabat in 1912, Fez has retained its status as the country’s cultural and spiritual capital.The Medina of Fez was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981. A year later, the commemorative medal was struck by the Paris Mint. Designed by Ahmed Benyahia and engraved by Pierre Javaudin, the obverse shows the minaret of the Qarawiyin Mosque. Fès and UNESCO are inscribed in French and Arabic; beneath the minarets, bottom center and left, are markings, Javaudin d’après AB (Javaudin based upon AB) referring to the engraver and the initials of the medal’s designer. The reverse shows a decorative motif typical of the local style.
Available in gold, silver and bronze
Photo © UNESCO/N. Burke