A Pictorial Glimpse into Fez

My daughter and I were fascinated, indeed, mesmerized, the first time we visited Morocco. We began our journey in Fez and later took a train across Morocco to Marrakech. We really hadn't researched the cities as thoroughly as we usually do, we just knew that we wanted the experience of 'stepping back in time' and Fez and Marrakech certainly delivered that experience in very different ways! 

This first post, of a two-part installation, will focus on the sites that we encountered while wandering through the souk (market) in Fez. This market is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we could see why.  We have created a pictorial display for your viewing, and we hope that you enjoy it!

The picture below shows some of the beautiful artisan crafts that are handmade in Fez. We brought an extra suitcase with us and quickly filled it up!


Below: Women from the nearby villages selling fresh wool. It was the end of the day for this market and the women looked exhausted. This is the only woman that would agree to let us take her picture.


Below: While some weavers of cloth use patterns that have been passed down from generation to generation, other weavers create new designs. This was a colorful place with so many designs that we were overwhelmed.


Below: The fabric market is a lively place. It is a wonderful market to purchase material to take home and have items made. You can also take your material to a local tailor; show them a picture, and they can make any item that you would like within a few days at very reasonable prices.  The women with the babies on their backs were from the nearby villages.


Below: Men performing traditional dances in the souk. The man in purple is jumping and he continued to jump into the air throughout the dance. He wasn't young so indeed he must be in good shape! Do note the beautiful Tadelakt (plaster work) on the entrance to this building and the impressive door.


Below: Latifah with a traditional water vendor. Due to the hot temperatures in Morocco, water is vital for workers. Historically, a man would walk through the area offering water for a nominal charge to anyone who was thirsty. He carries water with him in a leather bag and offers drinks in metal cups to individuals. The cups are lightly rinsed off in between customers; although, if a group gathers, individuals often don't bother washing the cups in between drinks. Insisting on washing the cup would be a sign that you felt that the person who just took a drink wasn't clean - which would be insulting. Notice the bell hanging from the water vendor's clothing to alert individuals that he is passing by and d0 note the modern addition of tennis shoes to his attire. Today, it is more common to see a vendor with a pushcart selling bottles of water.


 Below: You never know what you will encounter in the narrow passageways!


Below: We kept finding hidden gems within the souk.


Below: The traditional daily baking of bread with the firewood stored up above. By the way, the bread was delicious!


Below: The leather tannery in the Fez souk is fascinating. Here they dye leather using the same techniques that they have used for thousands of years. The smell is horrible! They gave me a mint leaf to hold under my nose, but I almost got sick. However, not Latifah!  She went down and walked on the realm of the pits with a young tour guide! Needless to say, that after the smell, I could not purchase any leather goods, in fact, I refused to buy leather for many months to come! 


Below: A man selling nuts. What we found interesting is that many merchants kept an extra chair for people to sit and visit with them or for old people who truly needed to rest while making a purchase. They were so hospitable that vendors would also ask us if we wanted chai (tea) or they’d offer water. Indeed, the vendors were insulted if we did not first exchange a series of greetings with them and accept the refreshments that they offered. We found the city moved at a slow, leisurely pace with old friends often stopping to chat or drink tea.  It was a charming site which made us rethink our pace of life and our attachments to electronic devices.


Below: In Morocco, rooftops serve many purposes and are especially a wonderful place to eat breakfast and to gather in the evening with other people. This first picture is of Latifah waking up early to take pictures of the sunrise from the rooftop while still in her pajamas.


 Below: After an evening roaming through the souk, I am on the rooftop of our riad having chai (tea) and watching the sunset. I was the first person there.  Later, the other guests from the riad joined us for an evening of revelry! 


We hope that you enjoyed our visual display of Fez! 

Part II: Our Discovery of Marrakech is coming soon. 

If you would like to join us on a trip to Morocco to take your own pictures and experience this unique place, our next journey is in March of 2020 for International Women's Day.

Latifah Al-Hazza