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Posted by on Apr 19, 2012 in Africa, Explore, Morocco, Travel Info

The Tanneries of Fes, Morocco

The Tanneries of Fes, Morocco

During the tour I took around Fes offered by my hostel, Riad Verus, was a tour of the tanneries. The tanneries are famous in Fes as they are some of the oldest tanneries in the world still working today. And boy do they stink!

Actually, The smell of raw and washed hide and the dyes just clogging my nostrils was difficult to manage. But thankfully they have fresh mint leaves to supply you to shove into your nose as a desperate reprieve from the accosting smells.

The tanneries to the unknowing eye simply look like 1 metre wide cylindrical vats filled with multi-coloured waters. Men are splashing around in the vats, their clothing matching the colour of the dyes in the water completely. Be it a yellow man or a purple man – they are all waist deep in the colourful dyes.

Men with curved cleavors in hand are sawing away at the fur on the hides severing the two perfectly – no fur remains and yet no skin is ruined. The fur is piled on one side of the table while the skins are on another.

With a view from a tall building down into the tanneries, I had a very full encompassing experience of the tanneries. Atop the surrounding buildings stood shacks of drying dyed leathers flapping in the light breeze which also wafts the unwelcoming scents back to my mint-stuffed nostrils.

Afterwards, the tour guide led us into the shops. This is where the hard and strenuous work taking place outside shows its pride; the merchandise. Leather bags, shoes, jackets, belts, knick-knacks, and even an Indiana Jones styled whip if you fancy.

My will-power and I motored through the shopping experiencing keeping a firmly zippered wallet and my mind’s eye on the bottom line; “I will not buy beautiful leather – I have no space. I will not buy beautiful leather – I must not give in!”. This internal battle continued until I exited the leather intoxication room and re-entered the winding streets and alleys of the chaos that is the Fes Medina.

The tanneries are an experience all on their own. Take the time to view them if you stop by Fes.

What other cities have fantastic Tanneries in them?