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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