A Must Visit in Fez
There is another tannery inside the Medina, which is also interesting but not worth as the Chouara Tannery one which is composed of numerous stone vessels filled with a vast range of dyes and various liquids spread out like a tray of watercolours. Men standing waist deep in dyes, work under the hot sun. The tanneries process the hides of cows, sheep, goats and camels, turning them into high-quality leather products such as bags, coats, shoes, and slippers. This is all achieved manually, without the need for modern machinery, and the process has not changed since medieval times, which makes these tanneries absolutely fascinating to visit.
The finished leather is then sold to other craftsmen who make the famous Moroccan slippers, as well as wallets, handbags, furniture and other leather accessories. Many of these products make their way into the European markets. The best views of the tanneries can be obtained from the surrounding terraces where the leather shops are located. Just visit one of the shops and ask for a tour, and the salesperson will give you the rundown on how the hides are treated and what dyes come from what plants. There are no entry fees to the Tannery but as it is necessary to pass through the leather shops to reach the terraces overlooking the tannery, expect the inevitable attempt to sell you something. They try their best to sell you some leather stuff and if you are not interested in leather items, they will try to sell you something else. We bought some cream bottles for 50 Dirham each, found it for ten later in Marrakesh. Buying leather goods in Fes seemed quite cheaper than in Marrakech and if you are a good negotiator then you can get it for less than half price.
As I told you, you can’t actually enter into the Chouara Tannery of FeZ; you can look at it only from the terraces of the surrounding buildings. my friend Katrina and I have been able to get down close to them and take some fantastic pictures. The pigeon poop and cow urine produce a stench so pungent that the tour guide will supply, upon arrival, sprigs of fresh mint to visitors to help them overcome the smell. Yes, it stinks but that’s the process. It was a revelation and amazing to learn why and what and where and who… It is, of course, mesmerizing but on the other hand, you truly feel pity for those ones who work hours and hours under the hot sun in such a very bad condition. I wonder myself if it is possible doing something to improve their standard of living.