Daily Archives: May 25, 2019

Fès: local color on Friday

As I write at 4.30 p.m., the late afternoon call to prayer is sounding from what triangulating ears present as hundreds of minarets.

I surely cannot hear 100 minarets from here at Riad El Amine, but I bet I can hear 20.

Today is Friday, and mid-day prayers today are obligatory for the faithful.  Our guide, Abdul, hurried us to a restaurant at mid-day, and came back an hour later.  He wanted to make the prayers, and we certainly obliged him.  I mean, I’m the guy who arranges my travel in order to hit noon-day Eucharist at Westminster Abbey, or Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Easter Sunday.

This has been a full day of highlights of Fès, a city worth visiting over and over.  Our guide took us to the royal palace, through a portion of the Jewish quarter in the medina, and to a deconsecrated synagogue, to an old castle with a prominent view of the old and new medinas, to a pottery and ceramic factory (I succumbed and am having shipped….), to lunch at a terrific restaurant (the best meal of the trip, says Kevin), and then to various spots in the old medina itself.  These included a 14th-century secondary school, the Koranic university, the tannery (oh, the smell), the woodworking district, the tombs of two important holy men, the cloth-dying district, and souks full of candy and nuts and spices and meat.

It’s been a full day.

Fès may well be the artistic center of Morocco.  I’d have to return more often to find out.  And I may.

Fès: tannery

Chouara Tannery is one of three extant tanneries in Fès.

The smell was nearly unbearable at first, since it’s a mixture of cow urine, pigeon dung, quicklime, water, and salt.

We basically had to bribe the tannery guide (MAD15, or US$1.50) to let us out.

These guys are working with their legs to be certain the leather is in the dye.

Fès: design

The visit to Fès included a sumptuous luncheon at a fine local restaurant (that caters to folks like me and Kevin and others from outside Morocco; and a visit to a pottery and ceramic tile factory; and loads of examples of local crafts, including plaster, tile, and wood carving.

Fès: Al Attarine Madrasa

مدرسة العطارين

Al Attarine Madrasa  is a 14th-century ‘secondary’ school, teaching all subjects important for learned scholars — Koran, algebra, history, science, and so on — and boarding students who came from away to study here.  The cells upstairs are just that — Spartan and perfect examples of how teenage scholars would have lived hundreds of years ago.

The collection of ceramic tile, cedar wood carving, and plaster work is a sight unto itself.

This was so worth the MAD20 (or US$2) admission fee.