Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fascinating Fes!

Production potters in Fes

The mosque Fatima built.
A hard sell at the embroidery shop.
I just don't know where to begin with my amazing adventure to Fes. We have seen so many sights, colors, people, foods, animals and smelled so many smells...from rose water smells in our room to donkey dung on the cobblestoned streets. I was able to see how they make the pottery, get one bag of clay, jump on the wheel, buy a bit of pottery for tea time and exchange information with the pottery place. Fes seems so very Moroccan!

We began our day by hopping into a van with our guide and going to the king's palace. He wasn't there; he has many palaces throughout Morocco. However, we were able to see moorish influences in the architecture and decorative walls. We then went on to see the old Jewish quarter begun in 500 BC during one of the persecutions of the Jews. Walkers have free reign in the areas were went , so it was a relief to not have to dodge traffic.

Panoramic view of Fes.

We then went to a military fortress, and we were able to see the panoramic view of Fes. Its winding twists of miles and miles of alleyways were below, along with thousands of little satellite dishes. Our guide gave us detailed history of Fes, a city originally started by the Berbers who may have been Norwegian! Those Norsemen went everywhere:-) The Berbers were conquered by Carthiginians, Romans, Christians and Muslims. The Arabs won in the end. They are there today alongside the berbers.

From the panoramic view, we went to the pottery place. We saw two production potters, three production glazers and two ceramic tile artisans with chisels to make small tiles by hand. One potter let me hop on his wheel, which was really nice of him. The guide also got me some clay from the huge mound of Fes clay as I slipped him some dirhams. The pottery was exquisite. I could have just settled there for the morning.

However, we had an enormous medina to see! And, boy did we see it. We saw the embroiderers, the tanners, the wool sellers, the leather goods makers, the nugget candy makers, the dyers of fabric, the weavers of rugs (female) and the weavers of fabric (men). We walked and walked for hours. Finally, our guide dropped us off at a Moroccan restaurant, and we tried Fes pastillia. It was fantastic! It is a pastry dusted with powdered sugar and filled with chicken and veggies and Fes spices.

Lunch ended before I could really nap, although we ate it on long couches and short tables. We began the circuitous walking once again, and we saw more artisans than one can possibly imagine in one place. Every once in a while, we dropped into a holy spot or a courtyard of a mosque for more history and discussion of the symbols in the art  and architecture that represent various aspects of the Islamic faith. Some are symbols of Solomon as well as the 5 pillars of Islam. We also were shown the Islamic cross which has nothing to do with Jesus. It has more to do with man and God and man and his fellow man

A woman adding glaze.
Our tour ended on a rooftop looking down over the enormous dye vats that the Fes artisans use to dye the leather to make brightly colored purses, shoes, wallets, notebooks and jackets. They are just beautiful colors of leather. I bartered for a pair of ruby colored leather shoes - I want ruby slippers in case I need to go home:-) I'll try to take a picture to show you. They just brighten my day every time I look at them, and they remind me of those enormous dye vats!

Tonight, we are headed to a Moroccan home to have a traditional dinner. I can't even imagine adding another sight or sound to an already full mind and heart of vivid memories of Fes!

One of the mosaic tile makers handing me a heart tile.
Fresh pottery at the studio.

At the palace.

Fesian Ladies making rugs.

Tajine cookers.

One of the entry ways to the medina.
Dye Vats just for Marge.
Dye Vats

Lovely colors at the pottery studio.


  1. Oh Marcia! thankyou for a look at the dye vats you saw today. I was hoping :-) you would include them-so yes, I felt they were included just for me! The sight of them still amazes me. I saw there was a woman working in the vats today.
    vut you saw so many amazing sights and crafts-what a place! You really loved the pottery! Wonderful connections to see what you did and the invite to dinner tonight. Sleep well and enjoy tomorrow!

  2. What a fabulous tour you had! Beautiful pics, and I'm so glad you got your hands in clay :o)