Known for its leather goods, Marrakech is home to a few tanneries where local families have been employed for generations. In fact, the tanneries have existed since the medina was founded over a thousand years ago. For visitors, the experience is often a sensory overload of smells, colors, and sight as they watch the men at work using pre-Industrial age techniques.
The main leather tanneries in Marrakech are located in the Bab Debbagh quarter in the north end of the medina; the location provides access to the Oued Issil river across the busy road (dry in the summer months and flowing quickly in winter months) and is also removed from the city, so it doesn’t bother nearby residents with the smell. Given the products used in the treatment process, including pigeon dung, the scent can be overwhelming. Many shopkeepers will provide a sprig of mint to help offset the smell as you watch the men at work below in the tanneries (and hopefully spend some time shopping as well).