FES-BEAUTIFUL AND HISTORIC TANNERY CITY OF MOROCCO
Fes has long been deemed a worthy area, full of scholars, craftsmen, kings, and those selling their wares on the trade routes. But what happened from its heyday to now? Some areas are barren or in ruins, while some parts are downright spectacular with fountains complete with intricate details, artists selling their handicrafts, and a plethora of food stands cooking up delectable traditional cuisine that can be smelled for miles.
We left Chefchaouen early one morning to drive to Fes and quickly found ourselves out in the middle of a desert where we couldn’t see anything but sand for miles. While the views were not especially pretty, we found that the roads were well-maintained. Despite the emptiness and lack of other vehicles around us, we quickly discovered that there were so many speed limit signs to obey. It was so unbelievable that we had to go so slow, when all we wanted to do was zoom past it all and reach our destination!
We did see one person during our journey in the middle of what we deemed as nowhere, and they were standing on the side of the road asking for water. We were a little leery, so we simply drove a little further up the road and left a bottle of water on the roadside for them to discover. That way, if they were really looking for water, they would have what they needed. And if it wasn’t what they wanted, well, we were safe and away from them.
We returned our rental car after we checked into our hotel in Fes. We had some trouble and ended up almost having an argument, because the worker there wanted us to go get the car washed. We thought that was crazy, because it only had a little dust on it. We knew that it was normal for the area, so we didn’t let them talk us into anything. We recommend that you do the same if you have a clean car, because if not, you will spend money that you need to!
We started our time in the city by visiting Madrasa Bou Inania, which was constructed between 1351 and 1356 AD.
We knew that it was the only madrasa that non-Islamic visitors could enter and there was no way that we were going to miss the beauty that we had heard was inside. The intricate details of the oriental design were amazing, and we could have stayed there all day, as we made sure that we didn’t miss anything.
Entering the medina in Fes is a must, and we recommend that you begin your journey over at the gate in R’cif Square. It is so easy to get lost as you walk along the narrow streets, but we managed to keep track of everything as we spent a couple hours stopping at a few of the restaurants that were selling local cuisine. We also took time to stop at Place as Seffarine, which is the Brass-makers’ Square. It was there that we were able to watch the local craftsmen create multiple items out of metal, including plates, spoons, and pots.
Karaouine Mosque and University happens to be the world’s oldest university and we ended up being mesmerized when we saw the door there. As beautiful as the door was though, we found the views of Madrasa Bou Inania from the minaret of the Chrabilyine Mosque even more fascinating. When we were at that mosque, we even had the chance to listen to the Muslim preacher pray. The preacher says the prayers through loudspeakers five times a day, so it is common for people to stop what they are doing and listen whenever they can hear him.
Our favorite part of Fes was the souqs that we discovered within the old medina. It is there that we managed to purchase some vegetables, fruits, and spices. As we were wandering along the numerous streets, we found that we were always greeted with fantastic artwork, and it made us want to snap more pictures than we normally do when we are on vacation. We even stumbled upon a couple of places where visitors can get a henna tattoo.
The following morning, we should have been tired of walking, but we chose to venture out for a short walk, as the sun rose up over the horizon. We had one more thing on our list, and that was the Chouara Tannery. It was closed when we arrived the day before, so we had to stick around to see it in the morning.
There is one important thing that we would like to mention and that is that no one should be out walking the streets of Fes, late at night or early in the morning. We came close to having a problem, because we spotted two guys that had just stabbed a person moments before.
We didn’t know that it happened and thankfully they turned and disappeared down an alleyway before they had a chance to see us. It was simply a wrong place at the wrong time thing, but it is something that everyone needs to be cautious of while in Fes.
Anyway, we made it to the tannery, and we were thrilled to see that there were no other tourists around! We took the tour to see the entire process, and despite the horrendous aroma in the air, we had a fantastic time. We followed our tour with a rather quick breakfast, because we wanted to get on our way to Marrakesh.
We gathered our belongings and went to the train station in Fes. We were taking the train for this part of our journey, so there would be no car rental fiascos at the end. However, we quickly realized that the whole car rental incident was nothing compared to being stuck in between a ton of other passengers on a train. It was so hot and not a breath of air was moving anywhere. Let’s just say that we were all happy when we finally arrived at our destination!