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A medina quarter (Arabic: المدينة القديمة al-madīnah al-qadīmah "the old city") is a distinct city section found in many North African cities. The medina is typically walled, contains many narrow and maze-like streets. The word "medina" (Arabic: مدينة madīnah) itself simply means "city" or "town" in modern day Arabic.
Because of the very narrow streets, medinas are generally free from car traffic, and in some cases even motorcycle and bicycle traffic. The streets can be less than a metre wide. This makes them unique among highly populated urban centres. The Medina of Fes, or Fes el Bali, is considered one of the largest car-free urban areas in the world. Some medinas were also used to confuse and slow down invaders because of how narrow and winding they are.
Locations of existing medinas
- Algiers, Algeria, the Casbah (Kasbah, Qasbah) of Algiers is a medina named after its fortress.
- Benghazi, Libya, is an Ottoman and Italian quarter in the downtown but does not include a historic wall.
- Chefchaouen, Morocco
- Dakar, Senegal
- Derna, Libya, a beautiful medina with a large wall, the medina is one of the best well-planned medinas, with little,narrow, and beautiful winding alleys.
- Essaouira, Morocco
- Fes, Morocco, has two ancient medinas, reflecting the fact that today's city contains two medieval cities that were built close together but were separate
- Ghadames, Libya
- Gharyan, Libya
- Hammamet, Tunisia
- Hun, Libya
- Kairouan, Tunisia
- Marrakesh, Morocco, has a very extensive and ancient medina
- Mazara del Vallo, Sicily
- Mdina, Malta, has medina-like features from its past Arab rulers
- Meknes, Morocco
- Monastir, Tunisia
- Rabat, Morocco
- Sfax, Tunisia
- Sousse, Tunisia
- Tangier, Morocco
- Taza, Morocco
- Tétouan, Morocco
- Murzuk, Libya
- Tripoli, Libya, the largest medina in the world
- Tunis, Tunisia, includes the famous Zaytuna Mosque
- Waddan, Libya
- Tazirbu, Libya