Planning a trip to Fes and want to see tanneries? This is an absolute Fes Bucket List, so I will share how to visit Chouara Tannery in Fes.
It is known for its traditional craftsmanship, including leather production, ceramics, and metalwork. The city’s tanneries, like the famous Chaouwara Tannery, attract tourists seeking an authentic glimpse into these ancient artisanal practices.
This is why I have prepared a comprehensive guide on how to visit Choura Tannery in Fes. We will cover other tanneries in Fes, discover what is so special about Choura Tannery, and share some practical information on how to navigate your way through Choura Tannery in Fes.
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Are you still planning your trip to Fes?
If the answer is yes, I am here to help you out with some of the essentials, like tours, hotels, and other useful tips that will help you with the entire process.
🎭 Medina in Fes can be a real maze for first-time visitors so a guided tour is highly recommended:
- Fez Old Medina Adventure: get familiar with Medina on this 4-hour guided tour.
- Half-Day City Private Walking Tour with a Guide: or enjoy the private experience instead.
🏆 Other top-rated tours in Fes:
💙 Do you have an extra day in Fes? Don’t miss Blue City Magic: Affordable Day Trip from Fez to Chefchaouen.
🏠 When it comes to accommodations, staying at a traditional Moroccan Riad is an absolute must. Here are some suggestions based on your budget:
- Palais De Fès Suites & Spa: the most beautiful luxury Riad in Fes
- Riad Semlalia: amazing mid-range Riad with rooftop pool
- Riad Arabella: affordable Riad with great value for money
🚗 If you are landing in Fes, I am pretty sure you don’t want to deal with taxi arrangements, so make sure you book your transfer before your arrival.
Useful things to know about tanneries
What is a tannery in Morocco?
A tannery in Morocco is a place where animal hides, typically from goats and sheep, are processed to produce leather. This process involves several stages, including cleaning, soaking, dehairing, and tanning.
Tanneries in Morocco are known for their adherence to traditional methods, which often rely on manual labor and age-old techniques. peculiarity of Moroccan tanneries is the vibrant and diverse range of colors used in the dyeing process.
Additionally, the traditional tanning process in Moroccan tanneries involves the use of tannins found in natural substances like oak and chestnut bark, which imparts a characteristic aroma to the leather.
Tourists are often drawn to Moroccan tanneries to witness the craftsmanship and heritage associated with leather production. At the tannery, you can observe skilled artisans working on the hides, and get insights into the age-old craft of leather-making in Morocco.
How many tanneries there are in Fes?
There are 3 famous tanneries in Fes:
- Chaouwara Tannery,
- Sidi Moussa Tannery,
- Tannerie El Arassa.
I visited them all, so you don’t have to – you can head directly to Chaouwara Tannery because is truly the best Fes tannery and it is totally worth visiting. This travel guide will focus solely on visiting Chaouwara Tannery.
Medina is confusing enough, so you can easily end up at the wrong place – especially if you look up tanneries in Fes on Google Maps, so make sure you save the exact name and follow the tips that I will share further in this article.
Why are tanneries so popular in Fes?
One of the primary factors is the city’s rich history and heritage in traditional craftsmanship, particularly in leather production. Fes has been a center for artisanal activities, including tanning, for centuries, and the skills and techniques have been passed down through generations.
The popularity of tanneries in Fes is also fueled by the authenticity of the methods employed. Many of the tanneries in the city adhere to traditional practices, using natural dyes and tanning agents derived from plant sources.
Last but not least, visiting tanneries is one of the most unique experiences in Fes. I still remember seeing photos of tanneries in Fes and it has been on my bucket list ever since.
How to visit Chouara Tannery in Fes, Morocco
Is Chouara Tannery in Fes worth visiting?
After a short research, you will find that Chaouwara Tannery is the most popular tannery in Fes, Morocco, and for all the right reasons.
As mentioned above, I visited all three tanneries in Fes and I can safely say that Chouara Tannery is worth visiting. In fact, you don’t even need to waste your time with other tanneries, because Chouara Tannery offers everything you need.
RELATED: 15 Best Photo Spots in Fes, Morocco
What makes Chouara Tannery so special?
First of all, Chaouwara Tannery is the oldest and the largest tannery in Fes, with a history that spans centuries. Its establishment reflects the city’s longstanding tradition of leather production.
The tannery is known for adhering to traditional methods of leather processing. Artisans use age-old techniques, including manual labor, to treat and dye animal hides. Also, it is famous for its vibrant and diverse variety of colors used in the dyeing process.
The sights, sounds, and even the distinct aroma associated with the tanning process offer a genuine connection to the historical and cultural aspects of leather-making in Morocco.
Lastly, this is truly the most beautiful tannery in Fes and it is perfect if you want to get some stunning photos from Fes. Most of the tourists chose to visit Chaouwara Tannery which is a good indication that is a special place.
How to find Chouara Tannery in Fes
Medina is a maze and Google Maps don’t help when it comes to reaching an exact location, so the best way to find Chouara Tannery in Fes is by taxi. You can ask your driver to bring you to Parking Bab Lamdoun which is a good indication spot.
Once you get out of the taxi, you will see a tiny river with a wooden bridge. There is also a massive sign saying Tanneries on the building across the bridge, so you won’t miss it.
In case you are still completely confused, there will be a lot of locals trying to show you the right access to the tanneries. We will dive deeper into this topic later, but keep in my that these guides are expecting a tip. While it is not mandatory, they can be very persistent.
Once you pass the bridge, the biggest alley will lead you directly to the tanneries. This is the ground floor of tanneries and you will need to find the viewpoint to see it from above – I will explain it in the next chapter.
If you are coming from Medina on foot, locate yourself on the Rue Chouara and walk until the Dar Salam Fes Medina. From there you will find a little alley that leads you to the ground floor of tanneries. It is easier to use Parking Bab Lamdoun as an indication and arrive from the other side.
How much does it cost to see Chouara Tannery in Fes
If you want to see Chouara Tannery from the top, you will need to go to one of the many terraces located above the tanneries. But you have to keep in mind that these terraces are part of the leather shops.
While normally you could visit a shop for free, Morocco is very different. Even if you are with a professional guide, you will need to pay a small fee for visiting the shop. As an alternative, you can buy something from the seller, but I don’t recommend that.
Wondering how much you should tip? It is totally up to you, but I wouldn’t tip more than 50 MAD per person. Overall, I think it is very affordable and worth paying because the view over tanneries is just one of a kind.
How to find the best view of Chouara Tannery in Fes
Before going to Chouara Tannery, I did my research, and every other blog mentioned shop number 10. You will also notice that there is a location on Google Maps called N10 Tennery Panorama Point, which is the best view that you can find.
It seems like the locals caught up on it and if you ask them the number of the shop, they will surely respond that it is number 10 and claim that they have the most beautiful view of ternaries. By the time you arrive at the top, you will understand that the view is slightly different.
If this happens to you, you can say to the owner that it is not what you wanted. Once they see that you don’t take any photos or videos, they will let you go without paying the fee.
When is the best time to visit Chouara Tannery in Fes
Official working hours are from 9 am to 7 pm for tanneries and shops surrounding the tanneries. It is best to visit tanneries later in the afternoon to avoid crowds and harsh lights. There will be fewer workers around 5 pm, but you can still experience the magic of tanneries.
My experience visiting Chouara Tannery in Fes
During the first day in Fes, we hired a guide who showed us Medina. We had some extra time left, so we decided to visit tanneries, but it was not part of the tour. Once we entered the leather shop, the shopkeeper didn’t let our guide in and insisted that he wanted to do the tour instead.
He brought us to his terrace and explained the process of leather making. It was an interesting tour and the guy was very friendly. After the tour, we had some time to take photos.
The view was pretty, but not exactly what I expected. For the reference, it was located on the north corner opposite of the shop number 10.
The shopkeeper invited us to see his shop, but we made it clear that we didn’t plan to buy anything and tipped him 100 MAD instead. He left us and didn’t insist any further.
Extra tip to see Chouara Tannery in Fes for free
Another day, we had some extra free time and decided to give it another try. That is when I discovered shop number 10, so we were on a mission to find the right spot without any extra help and guidance.
Once we arrived at the tannery, multiple locals wanted to show ‘the best view’ and give us a guided tour. Every time we said that we had done the tour already and refused the service. It worked like a charm.
At some point, we ended up at yet another shop with another corner view. The shopkeeper was ready for a tour, but we made it clear that we already did the tour and it was not what we were looking for.
After that, we tried one of the stairways right under shop number 10 which led us to the free terrace under the shop. So basically the same perspective, but without any fee.
If you are visiting without a guide and don’t want to deal with insisting shopkeepers, you can follow the same strategy that we did. Enter the tannery from Parking Bab Lamdoun, and take the stairs right under shop number 10 as per Google Maps.
The process of leather-making at a tannery in Fes
First, they soak animal hides in large vats of water to clean and soften them. Next, the hides are treated with lime and salt to remove hair and flesh.
After that, they’re soaked in tannin-rich liquids, often derived from plants, to preserve and tan the leather. The dyed hides are then hung to dry in the sun.
Skilled artisans cut and shape the leather into various products like bags and shoes. Finally, the finished goods are ready for sale.
Other things to know before visiting Chouara Tannery in Fes
Can I shop at the Chouara Tannery in Fes?
While most of the shopkeepers will be there trying to sell you their products, I suggest you avoid shopping around the tanneries. First of all, you will need some serious bargaining skills. And second, you will notice many quality complaints when reading a review.
Where to buy leather goods in Fes?
The simple answer is that you should focus on the shops that don’t sell you the views over tanneries. You will find multiple shops around Medina like that. If you book a shopping-free tour with a professional guide, you can ask their advice.
Popular tannery scams in Fes
No matter if you are around tanneries or wandering around Medina, you will see that every local around will offer to guide you or give you directions. Keep in mind that these people are not official guides and will ask for a tip in a rather aggressive manner.
When you are inside the tannery all by yourself, locals will share stories about the process and history. Once again, just to get a tip from you after. It is best to say that you already did the tour the day before.
I wouldn’t say that this is a scam, but you need to know that entering a leather shop that offers a view over tannery, means more tips. If you want to avoid any unpleasant situations, make sure you agree about the price before you go up to the terrace.
Keep in mind, that every ‘guide’ will claim that they have a professional license and every shopkeeper will tell you that looking is for free. In both cases, it is a lie.
Be aware! There is a strong smell at the tanneries
Leather tanning at Chouara Tannery engages large quantities of animal hides, natural dyes, cow urine, and even pigeon excretion. As you can imagine, the smell around tanneries is far from pleasant and you will feel it even before you get close to the tanneries.
Don’t wear sandals
Once you are on the ground floor of the tanneries, it is flooded with mud and excess liquid from the tanneries. I made the unfortunate mistake of wearing sandals and I had to throw them after my visit. Learn from me and wear closed shoes that won’t absorb any liquids.
Further reading for how to visit Chouara Tannery in Fes
This is the end of the tannery guide and I am sure that now you know how to visit Chouara Tannery in Fes. While it requires some preparation, it is one of the best Fes experiences and an absolute must!
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.