In February 2014, John and I went to Morocco for a long weekend.
One of my favorite places to visit was the Leather Souq in Fès.
This tannery in Fès is the oldest leather tannery in the world.
Tanning leather involves a process which permanently alters the protein structure of the skin.
Before dying the hides, they are first unhaired and then soaked in a mixture of acids, pigeon excrement, and cow urine.
That pungent mixture is what makes the leather hides soft and supple.
That mixture is also why you DO NOT refuse the aromatic mint bouquet that’s given to you when entering the Leather Souq.
After soaking, the hides are transferred to other stone vessels containing vegetable dyes such as henna, saffron, poppy flower, cedar wood, indigo, and mint.
Once the skins have been dyed, they are hung to dry or laid out to dry on rooftop terraces.
Or anywhere there is an open spot.
We saw a ton of them drying on the hill above Fès where you’ll find the Marinid Tombs.
The Leather Souq was my favorite sight in Fès.
I loved all the colors:
And really enjoyed learning about the process of turning the hides of sheep and goats into leather bags, coats, shoes, and slippers.
If your travels take you to Fès, even for a day, I highly recommend the Leather Souq.
Grab a guide and learn all about the tanning process in the oldest leather tannery in the world.