As always: click upon any image to enlarge it.
Once upon a time, the merchant was much like a monk, he practiced an ancient calling. He didn’t have a job in the sense that he knew how to make money, no, a merchant was someone with a gift for where and what - the specifics of how things fit each need and desire. Much like.a doctor, or a lawyer who designed a regimine to meet specific needs - the merchant was a professional healer of wants.
Imagine with me that you are a merchant trader arriving at the head of your great train of horses and men at the gates of Fez in say 1163. You are merchant to the courts of Paris, Rome, and London here to meet with your Berber and Arab counterparts who are prepared to display immense wealth of deepest Africa, Egypt, Palestine, and even of the Indian and Chinese.
Here in Fez was, and still is, the grandest medina in the entire world.
In Fez they work precious metals and stones, tan leathers, and prepare potions and daggers, display mounds of precious spice, and weave textiles from the world’s finest cloths. These artisans take the raw bronze, golds, silvers and gems to morph them into treasures men and women might die to posses. And have.
All just through this...
How large? A guide saiid that there were 900 miles of passages and tunnels worming over, under, and through this vast structure. Some of them are open, others snake about like dim channels - many too tiny for robust people to pass without a duck, dodge, or squeeze between others, walls, or ceiling beams.
The medina bans motor vehicles, bikes and scooters. Passage corners will narrow farther or gape wide to marvels. So surprising treats lure visitors deeper into this maze.
The thousands of medina dwellers serve one another and traffic from the larger city and world. Triple star restaurants and boutique hotels share space behind the walls with homes whose tenants rarely leave. Why should they?
A stretch of scarcity becomes abundance with foods, shops, and elixirs - novelty everywhere.
Shiny wealth bursts at a corner’s twist.
And there are jobs right here for resident artisans, craftspeople, artists, metal workers, doctors, accountants, lawyers, engineers, and the force that staffs the tannery that continues technology and methods invented by Romans who built their foundation.
Tannery workers dip hides into the vats filled with a chemical formula that also tracks back to Rome: Liquids laced with urine, feces and other stinking mixtures. Visitors are handed lemon tree sprigs to wave beneath their noses to cut a stench thick enough to slash with a Fez dagger.
Rumors stick thickly here, like fables of Holland’s traders who imported tales of this mysterious place: Which triggered their artists to visit and steal this medina’s palette into the shadowy canvases of the Dutch Masters .
Coming: Morocco V: Into The Sahara