Morocco: Tour of Medina (Fez), part 5

You guessed it right. Not finished with the medina of Fez just yet. The most important and most famous thing to see I believe inside the old medina is the tanneries. Without a guide, I don’t think you’ll find it. Perhaps you will, but not easily and only because you got lucky.

I have Googled the heck out of the tanneries and according to some authority on the web, the best place to see the tanneries is go by building/house #10. Seriously, that is what it said on my research.

I have not seen a house number to be honest, I tried to look. Thankfully, I was on a guided tour and like herded sheep we just followed the man/woman in front of us in the very narrow alley.

It was so narrow that no two people can go at the same time. We had to stop and allow other groups to leave before we can use the alley.

At the doorway, a man handed us a sprig of mint – to counteract the smell of leather. This much leather smell can be really suffocating. I like the smell of leather, but this was really beyond my tolerance.

Anyway, up one floor, there was a display of leather goods, we were told to browse. Up another floor, still more leather goods for sale. Same thing up one floor. Honestly, we climbed way too many narrow stairs that what floor we ended up going is to anyone’s guess.

At the top floor, we got a great view of the tannery (tanneries?). We saw numerous large vats filled with different colored dyes and some have leather soaking on the dye. It was a one-of-a-kind sight.

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We saw mules (or donkeys?) carrying in more leather to be dyed; men working on dyeing the leather. These men were working without the benefit of PPE or personal protective equipment like gloves. You see them inside the vats, their bare skin soaking in the dyes with the leather. I am sure in the long run there is harm done on the skin, if not on other parts of the body.

There were more than one group that was in the rooftop at that time and we were herded by group again. Once the first group left, we were asked to gather around the benches and the sales pitch commenced. While I had one ear on the presentation and the rest of my body on spying and feeding the kittens around, I learned that leather from camel is much lighter than leather from cattle. Much softer too.

On the way down, we stopped to look at the merchandise. We were told by the tour manager at the beginning of the day that prices for leather goods are much cheaper in the much bigger souk in Marrakech, which we will be visiting later on in the trip, so save our shopping until later. Listening to him, most of us did not buy anything big, or substantial. Until one of the ladies got a nice bucket style leather bag for $8. Great quality bag too. Too bad she told us about this when we were in the tour bus on the way to the hotel.

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While in the rooftop, we were not only looking at the vats down below, we were also looking at other things.

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Fez has become a city of satellite dish.

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Zoomed to this fortification.

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  1. Thanks for sharing that. I never would have seen a site like that with the dyes. And all those pretty colored leather products. Wow!

  2. Wow, absolutely amazing photos! Travel photography at its finest. I can't help wondering if being around the tannery chemicals all this time is healthy for those workers?

  3. I was just shaking my head. All that tanning. Who would know. And the workers with no PPE. I imagine that the chemicals tan human skin just as good or better than leather. A remarkable post my friend.

  4. So much hard work! Great pics.

  5. a colorful capture,thanks for sharing

  6. Unimaginable to the Western eye but that is one amazing sight. It is like being back a century to see this & I really enjoyed seeing them from above.
    Great post!

  7. Hello, amazing views of Morocco. The dye vats are interesting. I love the images of all the leather goods. They do have a lot of satellite dishes there. Thanks to Senator Mccain for standing up for the people!

  8. Fascinating tours but the strong smell of leather and dye would make me have an asthma attack.

  9. Amazing images, a very interesting post on Morocco!

  10. Beautifully photographed from top to bottom!! Two items of interest: the red leather items are more expensive because of the dye they use; the first step in treating the hides is to soak them in a solution containing pigeon poop [which is collected country-wide by the ton].

  11. OMG, Maria. THAT is something I would love to see one day and might be reason enough to visit Morocco, though it's not yet on our list. Unbelievable!

  12. Wow - that tannery is something else.

  13. Wow! Very interesting post! I think only you can go there as a foreinger.


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