Wish You Were Here Postcards – Tannery in the medina, Fes, Morocco

by Amanda McInerney on 02/07/2014

Very little has changed in the Fes medina for hundreds of years. The narrow lanes house a vast range of merchants and craftsmen selling their wares in the various souks. The leather souk also contains a tannery – one of the oldest in the world, and one you smell well before you see it.

The tannery can be viewed from balconies in the various leather stores and the (truly dreadful) stench is well worth suffering for the remarkable scene which is laid out before you. The site consists of numerous large, stone, bowl-shaped vessels which contain a selection of the dyes and various foul, and probably highly toxic, liquids necessary for the tanning process. Everything is done by hand and the men who work here do so in all weathers – even at the height of summer in unbearable temperatures. Clearly occupational health and safety is not a big consideration here and that is something you might like to take into consideration as you haggle to try to beat the leather vendor down to the last penny.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate July 3, 2014 at 7:22 am

I was very thankful for the bunch of mint to hold under my nose !!!!

Hotly Spiced July 3, 2014 at 8:42 am

I can’t believe it’s situated in what looks to be a densely populated area. Usually they are way, way, way, out of town. I think the working conditions in a vast range of industries in the Middle East would all be outlawed here xx

Helen | Grab Your Fork July 3, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Loved Fes but yes, sometimes we should be relieved we don’t have smell-o-vision. lol

Anna Johnston July 3, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Wow, thats fascinating and really disgusting too. Crazy that it was decided setting up this in the middle of the city was a good idea. Does the smell bother the locals? Or is it something they have just got used too? Either way, cool post. Your blog is so educational. :)

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef July 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I’ve been in a lot of tanneries in the US as in my former life I ran a company that made leather things. They do smell and there are only a few states that have tanneries because of the environmental laws.

Your visit was so cool but I don’t miss that smell!

Sally - My Custard Pie July 3, 2014 at 7:08 pm

I’d love to visit Morocco. The nearest I’ve been is Libya which sparked a real desire to explore more of North Africa.

My Kitchen Stories July 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm

fascinating Amanda. It does look like it would stink, but I agree all the same it’s an incredible traditional sight

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