An emblematic place in Marrakech, the Tanners district is a place to see at least once in your life.
The tanneries of Marrakech were created at the same time as the city, it dates back to the 17th century. The manufacturing processes have not changed much since then, and will surprise you in many ways. There is the smell, of course, whose reputation is well established, but also an ancestral expertise using a skilful natural chemistry, and the use of ingredients that are totally unexpected.
An ancestral savoir-faire
The skins are first depilated with lime to remove all traces of hair. They then macerate for a long time in large terracotta vats - or in concrete for the most recent ones. These open-air tanks are filled with water, pigeon droppings and salt. This shock treatment will give the skin suppleness, resistance and, above all, rot-proofness.
The skins are then cleaned with wheat bran and tinted. This step is still done in a very traditional way. Tanners use poppies to dye skins red, henna for orange, indigo or cobalt stone for blue, etc.
Once dyed, drying can then begin. The skins are spread on large flat stones in the sun, then beaten to soften, washed again and scraped to remove the very last waste and make it perfectly smooth.
To the souks
The leather obtained is finally sent to the souks to be transformed by the craftsmen into slippers, belts, poufs, and many other leather items. This leather craftsmanship is known worldwide.
Bab Debbagh, at the entrance to the medina
To visit the tanneries of Marrakech, go to the Bab Debbagh district, 8 minutes walk from our restaurant Le Foundouk, and 20 minutes walk from Jemaa el-Fna Square. Don't forget to put a few mint leaves under your nose!