Nov 29, 2014

Travel wishlist: Art & Artisans of Fez & Asilah (Morocco)

The first thing that ever got me hooked to Morocco/Marrakech was the blog 'My Marrakech' (now M.Montague) by Maryam Montague. Maryam's blog tantalized me by weaving rich images with stories from the faraway land.

And just as Maryam says in her book Marrakesh by Design, "Moroccan style is attainable yet exotic, practical yet mysterious" and that's exactly what got me hooked!

The arts and artisanship of the country speaks much to me. There's amazing craftsmanship and detailing in the everyday life and architecture of Morocco, to say the least. Let me share with you readers, my wishlist and a travel plan for artsy bohemian MoroccoJust hop in, lets walk through cobblestone sidewalks, leather tanneries, visit artisans and vibrant markets and much moreI would be delighted if this ever helps you planning a trip to this rustic land! 

Aside of Marrakech and other places (which are definitely not to be missed), I'd wander longer at Fez (Morocco's capital of art and crafts) and Asilah (a seaside town near Tangier). 

Fez first. Would ideally visit artisan workshops with a native Fassi guide, walk it through the labyrinthine Medina with its teeming local markets and workshops, eat local food and wander with artistic purpose. I long to visit the backyard workshops of the traditional craftsmen – zellij tile masters, weavers, tanners, coppersmiths and potters. And not just watch them in action, but to go slow, meet them and try out some of the techniques myself.
However if time is a constraint, I'd choose to go through Culture Vultures Fez and let them do my local planning

The leather tanneries of Fez: Imagine giant watercolor pools like these!
These are in fact leather dyeing vats "containing natural vegetable dyes, such as poppy flower (red), indigo (blue), henna (orange), cedar wood (brown), mint (green), saffron (yellow), and pomegranate powder." These tanneries process the hides of animals, transforming them into leather products - all manually. The process has apparently remained unchanged "since medieval times, which makes these tanneries absolutely fascinating to visit." (as seen on the AmusingPlanet)

Roam the Fez Medina to catch up with  the classical artisans at work 
Ceramists 

and plenty more. Watch this video by the Exposé Artisanal project for just a teaser.

Would any one want to miss the carpet auctions in the Middle Atlas Mountains??
Also take off to visit textile weavers in the little caves and co-ops of the village Immouzer (off Fez).

Of course, with this heady cocktail of arts and crafts anyone would be hungry as hell. So then do a Food Tour Through Fez with Plan-It Fez or Fez-Food. That would be a perfect end to your stay in the city. Slurrrrp! 


And then onto the fortified fishing village of Asilah.
Not to be missed by art and design lovers. For me the idea of "cobalt blue–painted window frames, emerald carved doors, fruit stands selling fresh orange juice, and donkey-drawn carts clattering down sun-dappled alleys" is pure blissAdd to it that Asilah is a village "so blessedly removed from Morocco’s tourist-filled cities". The walls of this village appear to be splattered with graffiti, calligraphy and other gorgeous work as I browse through a hundred stunning images. Here are some teasers for you!

Must visit these hole-in-the-wall stores
and hunt for paintings and antiques in Alkamra
and swoon over calligraphy as effortless and bold as this!

That last image does it for me. Just this virtual trip gives me a Happy-High... Morocco has to happen someday!

Must mention this too... apart from impromptu travel planning with the help of local hands, alternatively if you are in India and looking for India-based travel planners who help with customizable travel packages, you could check out Discover Morocco by TravelTours.in. I haven't checked it out myself, but they do have some interesting plans for hassle-free travel.
Some others organizers I found are  TheWanderersTUI, and EquinoFunHolidays.

Art and craft tours (virtual for now) is something I'd thoroughly enjoy doing, It has fit perfect into my blog calendar and I intend to continue it as a series, so keep watching this space. You can drop in anytime and check the Artful Home & Travel tab above for updates.

Click on the pictures to go to their rightful sources.
And a Disclaimer: I may or may-not have visited these places or used the services of the links mentioned in this series. All suggestions based on my research and tastes. Leave it to you to take a shot at them :)

4 comments:

  1. Omg!! This is amazing. I love love love love the carpets and the blue pottery..I want to go to Morocco now :) !!!

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  2. Tell me about it Kunjan :-) a dream destination!

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  3. Morocco has been on my wish list for a while now.. However, I've seen a similar street in Spain and simply couldn't get over it..

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    1. Thats great Patty.. am sure I'd find it on yr blog.. will check! I'd love to visit Spain

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