Travel Within Fes Morocco’s Leather Tanneries

fez-leather-tannieriesHidden deep within Fes, Morocco’s major economic metropolis, are an array of colored dyes spread over the city floor in large cement vats, the 600 year old tanneries. The pallet of pomegranate red, burnt orange, saffron yellow and wild mint green can be seen from the surrounding rooftops and terraces.

While the tanneries have retained hundreds of years of artistry and tradition, they may as well be the foulest smelling attraction in all of Morocco. When visiting the ancient sites guides will offer tourists fresh mint leaves to put under their nose.

Generations of laborers have toiled in the same honeycomb vessels. Shoeless, the workers climb into the tubs to knead the leather skins for hours, the dye staining their arms and legs. The smells hint towards some kind of potent secret ingredient: pigeon droppings. These excretions soften the skins and work to produce the famous Moroccan leather. Skins come fresh from the slaughter and hundred of hides are worked on at once.

When the leather has been treated it is hung or laid to dry on the flat rooftops. When tourists are exploring in the tanneries they can make their way to the nearby market to visit a number of leather shops where the incredible leather goods are sold.


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