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“Good experience! ” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Tanneries

Tanneries
outside Bab Debbagh, Marrakech, Morocco
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Ranked #83 of 91 attractions in Marrakech
Type: Factory Tours, Neighborhoods
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Attraction Details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: Leather tanning is the major industry in the city. It’s definitely worth a walk through this neighborhood.
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
“Good experience! ”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2013 via mobile

First we need to say: what do you think it is? A Spa?

We went to the tanneries knowing what's going on there! They are preparing skin to leather in a - more or less - traditional way! It's worth to go there if you want to see how they make their work! But like the other reviews say - everyone there wants to make money - just don't be afraid to say "No thanks!"
Three points because you can't compare this with f.e. the really beautiful jardin majorelle! But indeed it's special and worth a walk!

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London, United Kingdom
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“awful”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2013

We had a similar experience to other people. As we were walking near our Riad a young man said that he was a neighbour and wanted to tell us that it was a special Berber holiday and that we should visit the leather market. We thought we would have a quick look and at the end of the street another man, who was obviously an associate of the first young man, directed us towards the tanneries. A third man then kept telling us to follow him as he "happened to be going that way". At the entrance of the tanneries we were given sprigs of mint to counteract the stench and entered a scene which looked medieval. Men were in pits of animal urine curing leather hides. The smell was awful. After a few minutes I said I was leaving but the guide said we were half way around so I should carry on. He then tried to persuade me to go to the leather market but I refused. He asked for money and I gave him 20 dirhams but he insisted on 40. Ok, that is not a fortune but the whole experience was unpleasant. If anyone suggests you go to the tanneries just say NO.

Visited March 2013
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London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
56 reviews 56 reviews
21 attraction reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
“Don't be afraid to say no!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2013

Having read lots of negative reviews of visiting the Tanneries on Tripadvisor, I feel that I have to respond. I have traveled quite a lot and I think you only need to be as wary as in any other country.

We looked up the tanneries on the map and made our way there, generally ignoring the young men on the way trying to point us in directions we knew to be incorrect. As with walking anywhere in Marrakech, dawdling and obviously checking your map will attract more attention.

We made it to outside one tannery (apparently Berber rather than Arab so they were tanning larger hides). Having read all the reviews we were prepared for a terrible smell, but anyone who has grown up anywhere near a farm or who has ever smelt gone off meat will have experienced something worse!

We were given some mint as a "gas mask" though and then shown round by the son of the tannery keeper. He explained each of the stages and took us on the roof to take some photos.

We then went to the cooperative shop just along the road, where we were explained everything about the leather products. This was really interesting.

There was no doubt that the products were of high quality but the keeper did not seem keen to negotiate and there was no way we could afford the prices he asked for.

We therefore gave him a 50dh donation and a further 25 to the son who was waiting outside. The products were beautiful and we told the keeper that. I think they were surprised that we offered a donation before being asked and the compliments sweetened the deal.

Don't be tempted to buy the products unless money is no object - my boyfriend wanted a satchel and the price offered in the tannery was 1600dh (£131) and we were able to buy it for 340 (£28.50) in the market after some serious haggling!

An interesting visit, but don't let yourself be pressurised. There is not point paying more than you would at home, all you will go home with is buyer's remorse! The satisfaction of good haggling is much better!

Visited March 2013
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Havant, United Kingdom
2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“The pits of hell.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2013

One month on and the smell is ingrained in my nostrils, and I'm still a little traumatised.
This place is impossible to find without a local person, even with a map....yes, I was actually seeking it out :-s
We walked for ages, even going outside the Medina walls (looked easier to find on the map), to try and find this place, that was an experiance in itself, we did not feel safe. Men were coming to the edge of the street just to stare at us as we walked by.
On this occasion, it was starting to get dark and we really were in the middle of nowhere, so had to head back to our Riad, it was a complete waste of a few hours.

A couple of days later, I was still keen to find this place as I had seen some interesting photos online of the big pools of brightly coloured dye.
This time we got our driver from an excursion company to take us and what we found was something very different.
As with the other reviews we were greeted by one man who gave us the fresh mint to mask the smell (it didn't), this 'tour' he provided us with was about ten minutes long and he told us what the young men were doing, there wasn't much room for walking so we took some pictures from where we stood.
The smell was the worst I have ever smelt, like 1000 dead dogs. The 'pools' weren't filled with any dye but instead pigeon poo and mud.
When I start to hate my job back home, I like to imagine working there and all of a sudden I feel much better!!

So like other posts, we were handed over to someone else, starts off all friendly and then they trap you in the 'shop', with all manner of leather goods, then comes the hard sell with the carpets upstairs, they sit you down, get another guy in to roll them all out for you.
Just so happens I'm a vegan so that was a good Get out of jail free card, I explained I don't buy animal products and they didn't really know what to say so had to let us free, they tried to get us to visit another shop, up some stairs on the way out, this is where the women are and they have leather jackets etc....again, nothing for vegans ;)

We were making a run for it back to the car and another 'manager', is waiting outside with a lot of other young men, he asks for a donation for the workers (yeah yeah), My husand gives him 200Dhs, so just under £20ish (?!) I think that was very generous, I would have given less but I think he had had enough by then and wanted out. Plus our driver was waiting so they had no reason to kick off.

In a way i am glad we visited this place as it made me think of how others live and made me more greatful for what I have.
Not exactly a relaxing time on holiday, if thats what your looking for but it is what it is and best taken with a pinch of salt, like some of the things seen in the main sqaure of Marrakech.

Later on the same day, we encountered a young man just hanging around the street, didn't find him to be a threat, he advised us to go and 'look at all the dyeing of leather' & 'lovely spice market', 'only for today'. Ofcourse it was The Tanneries, or another scam.
We had seen enough and told him that we had already been and give him a knowing grin, seemed to do the trick.
Happy Holidays.

Visited February 2013
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London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Do not recommend”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2013

Typically, I don't write reviews when the overall consensus is so clear that the place in question may in fact not be worth visiting, however based on what we have heard from others I think its fair to say that we felt obliged to at least post a warning.

Its hard to write this without it echoing the sentiments of prior reviews, but it will hopefully emphasise the need to exercise caution.

We found ourselves lost in the Souks looking for Ben Youssef so decided to just wander in the hope that we'd stumble across it. Having only been in the Medina for an hour or so, good will and trust was still prevalent! A young lad came up to us as we clearly looked lost and advised us that the markets were on today and to follow the road in the direction we were headed. We presumed he was genuine as he did not accompany us - merely advised us and walked on ahead (they've got this down to a tee!). We then entered a small square whereby we bumped into same individual again who directed us to follow a gentleman who apparently was "on his way to work" at the tanneries. We did just that - the man in question was polite enough and we felt ok following him despite it being toward the outer walls of the Medina.

Upon arrival at the tanneries, we entered through a small arch at which the man disappeared inside, and another appeared holding out a clump of mint for each of us due to the apparent bad smell inside. This is the point whereby my partner asked about cost and when we declined the entrance fee we were told in angst that we could pay by credit card etc. to which we also politely declined.

As we were only just inside the gate, we managed to leave despite the man clearly being angry. We felt quite intimidated as we left due to the location of the building being in a non tourist area which put a bit of a bad taste in our mouths for an hour or so.

For the remainder of the day we soon realised this was a well arranged scam after encountering the same approach and same line - young lad tells you that its a special day and they are dying the leather etc. just to shoe horn you into an god forsaken hell hole to which you are expected to make an expensive purchase to buy yourself an exit!

Thankfully we did not part with any cash but sadly others were not so lucky.

This is a con, a scam and a way of trapping trusting tourists. Avoid at all costs.

Visited February 2013
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