- On January 26, 2020
- In Fes
FES TANNERY: IMMERSION IN THE CHOUARA TANNERY
FES TANNERY: IMMERSION IN THE CHOUARA TANNERY:
The tanneries of Fez are among the places to visit in the heart of the millennial medina of Fez. This post is dedicated to the Chouara tanneries, the oldest tannery in Fez.
In March 2015, I left for Morocco, for yet another trip to this country that I love so much. After posting several posts on my road trip in the Middle Atlas or on my bivouac in Merzouga, we leave this Morocco tinged with adventure and nature to reach Fez, the cultural capital of Morocco.
I had already given you many tips for visiting Fez in a previous post from my travel blog. Today, I take you to discover the tanneries of Fez and I will quickly tell you about the crafts in Fez and more generally in Morocco.
Fez, Capital of Moroccan Crafts
Besides being the cultural and spiritual capital of Morocco, Fez is also the main Moroccan city for crafts. And the craft industry in Fez is at the heart of the medina!
While strolling, or rather losing yourself in the alleys of Fez el Bali (name given in Arabic for the medina of Fez, which means the ancient Fez), you will have the opportunity to discover many trades of Moroccan craftsmanship : woodworking, leather, copper and other metals but also fabrics or pottery.
Leather in the Medina of Fez and the Tanneries…
The cooked and its work is very present in many districts of the medina of Fez. During your walks in the heart of Fez el Bali, you will come across tanneries, donkeys carrying skins but also many small stalls where craftsmen make slippers for example.
If you have the good idea to admire the panorama of the Fez medina from the Merinid tombs, you may also see skins drying in the sun on the hill of these tombs. After 2 or 3 days in Fez, we understand very well, leather work is one of the major crafts of Fez.
The medina of Fez has three different tanneries. Two of these tanneries are quite small. The main one, the Chouara tannery, has existed for over a millennium. It is one of the symbols of Fez and Moroccan craftsmanship. In the rest of this post, I will tell you about the visit to the Chouara tannery, which is the tannery in Fez which is most interesting for its history but also for its size and authenticity.
Panorama On The Fanner Tanneries
To start discovering the tanneries of Fez, I recommend that you start with a panoramic view of the Chouara tanneries.
The tanner district is located near the heart of the medina and the Quaraouiyine mosque, less than a five-minute walk away. The district is nicknamed the tanners district but its real name is Blida.
As soon as you arrive in this area, many touts will offer you to visit the tanneries or have a panoramic view. Refuse and indicate that you do not wish to pay. Enter one of the shops and go up on the terrace, the reel may take you there, without necessarily asking you something but hoping to get a commission on your purchases. Take the time to admire the panorama on the terrace. Advice, don’t buy here. With a reel prices go up enormously, these shops are expensive and many products (such as jackets) do not come from Morocco at all.
From the different terraces, the view of the tanneries of Fès is impressive. We are well aware of the size of the Chouara tanneries and we can easily see the different areas: washing the skins, dyeing, drying, … The smell is not very pleasant but very easily bearable.
The overwhelming majority of travelers will stop at one of these terraces. Let’s go beyond and really discover these tanneries.
Tanneries of Fez: Immersion in the Tanneries Chouara
To get to know the tanneries in depth and soak up this artisanal work, you have to go inside the tanneries.
It’s allowed and free! However, as I told you before, many touts (or false “guards”) will follow you. Discourage them. In the worst case, negotiate, at the entrance of the tanneries and not before, to move freely in the tanneries in exchange for 10 or 15 Dh.
The tanneries Chouara is located near a wadi (river) which crosses the medina. The easiest access is located in the street parallel to this wadi, you turn into a small dead end and the end of the dead end marks the entrance to the tannery of Fez.
Once in the tanneries of Fez, pay attention to two things:
– it slips, it’s dirty and there is a risk of splashing: bring good shoes!
– the tanneries of Fez are above all a place of work (and hard work!), Be careful not to disturb the busy people who circulate in the tanneries
By discovering these tanneries, you will be able to see there the different stages which make it possible to pass from a cow or goat skin to a piece of leather ready to be worked. These tanning steps are quite numerous and to understand them well, I recommend that you check with one of the available people. Obviously, a tip is appreciated / recommended / normal.
The work in the tanneries of Fez is 100% artisanal. Everything is done by hand, from moistening the skins to dyeing and cleaning. It is tiring and tiring work especially in the conditions that we can see in Fez. old tanneries, not necessarily well maintained due to lack of means and especially with high temperatures in summer which regularly exceed 40 °!
Visiting Fes Tanneries
I let you discover some photos taken during my various visits to the Chouara tanneries in Fez.
Visiting the tanneries in Fez is clearly one of many essentials when you discover Fez. Morocco is a country of crafts and leather work is essential in Fez. After a good visit to the tanneries of Fez. I recommend that you go in search of a good pair of slippers, made in Morocco of course. This is surely one of the best souvenir ideas from Morocco!
If you plan to go to the tanneries during your stay in Fez. I really recommend you go to the Chouara tanneries which are the oldest in the medina. And who are still used today!
Finally, if you have any questions about this tannery in Fez, do not hesitate to comment on this post. I respond quickly to comments posted on the blog. In addition, our exchanges will surely be useful to other readers of the blog who learn about the visit to the tanneries of Fez.